It’s time for a new cell phone, computer, printer or the latest electronic gadget.  As Americans we tend to upgrade our electronics at least every year or two.  So what do you do with the old ones?

You may have an older relative who thinks your first generation device is still high tech and willing to take it off your hands…but if your Uncle Sal is a little too hip to fall for that, where do you take it?

Landfills have been full of these types of common items for years, in fact they contribute to 70% of the nation’s toxicity found in landfills.  Now that we are heavily immersed in the electronic technology world, the disposal of our toxic discards are a monumental problem.

“E-Waste” is the term for electronics that have no useful life remaining.  E-Waste contains many elements that are hazardous and need to be recycled, like lead, mercury and cadmium, to name a few.  The components in electronics leach toxic chemicals into the ground, making them more than just a nuisance. Yes, they take up a lot of room in the landfill, but the chemical cocktails they contain are dangerous and even deadly in mass quantities.  If we continue at the pace we are going, our ground water will be too contaminated to consume. According to the EPA, only 25% of electronics were recycled in 2009.

Many states (25 as of this writing) have passed laws requiring recycling of electronics and putting a ban on disposal in the traditional sense.  Manufacturers are also implementing programs and making design changes that help.  Below are several online resources for recycling or donating electronics for recycling, including take-back programs and fundraisers, all of which promote and encourage ‘doing the right thing’ with your gadgets.

Will the E-Waste police show up at your door if they detect an electronic device in your trash can?  Not likely, but let your conscious be your guide.  Think about the ground water we toxify with our common household items and the long term effects of our short term disposal choice.

In North Carolina, the e-waste recycling efforts are paying off.  In it’s first year of banning electronics from its landfills, the state has more than doubled it’s electronic recycling efforts. The impact will be immediate and significant around the globe when we all take the same steps toward a more responsible use and disposal of our electronics.

Take a look at these resources to find one suitable for you.  In the process, you could make a few extra dollars or help a worthy charity (and get a tax deduction).  Either way you will be able to embrace that new techno-device, knowing your last one is resting in peace, not in a landfill.


The BAN (Basel Action Network) website has a list of companies that have signed the Electronic Recycler’s Pledge of True Stewardship, a pledge to maintain strict criteria for sustainable and socially just electronics recycling. See your local area by state.


Get paid to recycle your electronics at Collective Good. You can keep the money, or donate it to one of their charity partners, and they make the process free and easy to use.

COMPUTER TAKE BACK Your best recycling option is to see if there is an e-Steward near you. E-Stewards are recyclers who agree to operate under strict environmental controls, to follow worker safety protections, and to not export toxic e-waste to developing countries. They have a full list of take-back programs listed here by TV and computer manufacturers.


Customers who use the service receive online discounts good for future purchases. Dell has partnered with the National Cristina Foundation (NCF) to help disabled and economically disadvantaged children and adults receive the gift of technology. They have partnered with Fed Ex to provide FREE at-home pick up service, so it couldn’t be any easier!


Green Disk makes recycling easy for all of your CDs, jewel cases, DVDs, audio and video tapes, pagers, rechargeable and single-use batteries, PDAs, and ink/toner cartridges. For just a few dollars, you can ship in your own boxes, or for larger loads or company collection sites, Green Disk will send you a cardboard “Technotrash” box in which you can ship them up to 70 pounds of any of the above. Your fee covers the box as well as shipping and recycling fees.


At Project KOPEG, they offer an e-waste recycling and fundraising program that can help you raise funds for your organization. Recycle iPods, MP3 players, cell phones and chargers, digital cameras, PDAs, palm pilots, and more.


Recycle for Breast Cancer provides a FREE recycling program so that anyone, anywhere, can participate. Free prepaid shipping labels, envelopes, collection boxes or they will send a truck to your home or business.


Recycles is a national exchange network (Buy-Sell-Trade Network), focused on assisting local teachers, technicians, schools, churches, and nonprofit groups interested in recycling and reusing computers, laptops, office, and school equipment.


At Recycle Net, you can BUY/SELL/TRADE computers, phones, radios, televisions, etc.


A Washington based company, Recycle Techs specializes in computer sales and recycling of retired computer and office equipment.


From cameras to televisions, the Sony Take-Back program gives Sony customers a free and convenient way to recycle up to five Sony products per day by dropping them off at designated Waste Management e-Cycling drop-off centers throughout the country.


“The technology place for nonprofits” offers comprehensive listings of places to find recycled computer hardware for your nonprofit organization. Tech Soup also offers legal software and operating systems for nonprofits.


The Trade-In and Recycle Program by Toshiba provides you with a way to trade-in or recycle used, working technology products (any manufacturer) in exchange for a cash refund by mail. m/toshiba


World Computer Exchange has reused donated computers to provide learning labs in 2,600 schools, libraries and youth centers that connect one million young people per year.


You Renew provides an easy way to get cash for your electronics, phones, gaming systems, iPods, etc.