Out With the Old: How to Recycle Electronics the Right Way

Out With the Old: How to Recycle Electronics the Right Way E-Waste Rubicon

Out With the Old: How to Recycle Electronics the Right Way E-Waste Rubicon

According to a U.N. study, 44.7 million tons of electronic waste, or e-waste, was produced in 2016. Out of this mind-boggling number, only 20% of e-waste was recycled properly.

Electronic waste is a major issue. Unlike recycling cardboard or glass, it’s confusing to know what to do with your old electronics. From individuals throwing out perfectly good phones in favor of the latest model or businesses tossing defunct printers, e-waste is everywhere.

Unsure of how to dispose of your old phones, tablets, computers, and other gadgets? Don’t worry. You’re not alone. In this post, we’ll focus on how to recycle electronics the right way.

Interested in learning about the effects of e-waste on the environment? Check out our post on the electronic waste problem.   

First, evaluate your electronics

Don’t immediately jump to getting a new gadget. If you have a broken or older item, see if it can be repaired. This may be cheaper than buying a new one, so win-win.

If you are getting a new electronic device, check out refurbished options. They’re affordable, high-quality, and purchasing one reduces the demand for brand-new products.

Once you determine which electronics you do need to get rid of, always delete all personal information off of each device. Ensure that you’ve transferred all important files, photos, and other assets to the Cloud, a flash drive, an external hard drive, or whatever strikes your fancy.

What to do if the electronic device is still in working condition

Don’t throw it out! If it still has some life in it, you don’t need to toss it in the trash. Even if you’re ready for a new phone or laptop, there’s someone out there that will appreciate your old one.

You can donate electronics to Dell Reconnect, a partnership between Dell and Goodwill. This program refurbishes gently used devices and helps Goodwill customers purchase electronics at affordable prices.

If you’re getting rid of an Apple product, look into Apple GiveBack. This trade-in program offers store credit for eligible products. If your device isn’t accepted, Apple will still take it and recycle it properly.

In addition to Apple, organizations like Sprint, Office Depot, Staples, and many others accept used electronics in exchange for store credit or gift cards.

Plus, you can always sell items on Craigslist or eBay for some extra cash!

What to do if the electronic device is beyond repair

If your electronics can’t be repaired, refurbished, or donated, they need to be recycled. E-waste recycling can be tricky. Devices like phones and computers have plastic, glass, and metal that can and should be recycled.

However, they also often contain lead, mercury, and cadmium. These toxic chemicals can leak in landfills and cause harm. E-waste recycling isn’t as straightforward as standard recycling–but that doesn’t mean it’s difficult.

First, check with the manufacturer. They may accept electronic devices for recycling, which can be a simple option.

If not, there are a plethora of other recycling choices out there. For example, Best Buy will recycle any electronic device regardless of where you purchased it or what condition it’s in. They accept TVs, computers, phones, appliances, audio devices, video games, cameras, and more.

If Best Buy isn’t convenient for you, explore the EPA’s handy list of organizations that offer electronic recycling services. You can also search for electronic waste management service providers near you on this site.

Once you do a little research, you’ll find a reliable e-waste service that you can depend on and stop fretting over how to recycle your electronics.


Looking for some more eco-friendly business tips? Check out How Big of a Problem is E-Waste? or read the RUBICONMethod in full to start developing a more successful waste reduction and recycling program today.