How to Recycle Electronics

A pile of circuit boards lay waiting to be recycled

Electronics are essential to the tasks we perform every day. We use our phones to communicate with friends, family and coworkers. Televisions and gaming consoles give us hours of entertainment. Smart devices allow for connection and control over our homes. Offices of all vocations require computers to complete projects and reports.

While we integrate these gadgets into daily life, they need to be replaced as they age. As you supplant your devices, figuring out what to do with your outdated products can be challenging. Many stay stowed away in drawers or closets for years without use.

It’s easy to throw old devices away, but recycling electronics is always a safer, universally beneficial option.

Why You Should Recycle Your Electronics

The effect of pitching your old cell phone or putting that 15-inch tube tv in the dumpster may not seem significant, but electronics are causing an exponential growth in solid waste worldwide. If electronics are recycled, their components can be reused or safely disposed of, lowering the amount of waste entering landfills.

Safe disposal is vital to protecting the environment. Most electronics require toxic substances to operate. Whenever they are thrown away with regular trash, harmful chemicals from their components leak into the landfill and permeate the groundwater, which vaporizes into the atmosphere.

What You Can Do With Old Electronics Before You Throw Them Away

If you are trying to figure out how to remove old electronics from your home, here are some great ways to make use of them before throwing them in the trash:

  • Repair and Reuse: Before scrapping your phone, computer, gaming console or TV, see if there is a repair shop in your area that can fix the device. This method can save you money and extend the life of your electronics.

If you are a DIY individual, look up repair videos or step-by-step instructions. If your device doesn’t work due to a faulty electrical outlet, make sure to contact a trusted electrician who can handle the job.

  • Sell: If you are upgrading your device, and the old one usable condition, there may be someone who wants to buy it from you. You can sell it independently through eBay or Facebook Marketplace or send it to a buyback company like Gazelle. Some cellphone carriers offer trade-in value for your old devices whenever you purchase a new one.
  • Donate: If your gadgets are usable, but you aren’t able to get cash for them, consider donating them to a non-profit organization or school. Thrift stores will usually accept your donation as well.
  • Recycle: If your unwanted device doesn’t operate or isn’t fixable, recycling is the preferred method of disposal.

Ensure Your Device is Ready to Go

Before you sell, donate or recycle:

  • Make sure to back up any items you want to keep from your cell phone or computer like photos and music to a different location like an external hard drive or cloud storage.
  • Reset it to its factory default settings, and make sure to wipe any personal data.

How to Recycle Your Old Electronics

Recycling your electronics is easier than ever before. Depending on what you need to recycle, many large retailers have bins for small electronics, like phones, tablets or batteries. The easiest way to find a place to recycle your devices is by searching online for locations near you. For Missouri residents, you can visit the E-Cycle Missouri page for more information on how and where to recycle.

If you can’t find a recycling location nearby, you can contact your solid waste program to see what other regional options are available.

Before scrapping your electronic device, remember that its failure to operate could be the result of a faulty outlet, wiring or electrical fixture. Make sure to contact your local expert electrician to inspect and fix any residential or commercial electrical problems you may have.