There are a few reasons why you don’t want to toss your old gadgets in the trash.
First off, they could be worth something! Yep, even that old tablet with a cracked screen might net you a few bucks.
Second, tossing these items in the trash could be dangerous or downright terrible for the environment.
Here’s the proper way to dispose of your used gadgets.
For starters, I talked to Linda Gabor at the website Call2Recycle.org. It’s funded by the big battery companies and it’s goal is to make sure you never toss a used battery in the trash ever again.
“We don’t want these going into the landfills where some of those chemistries can actually have toxic materials,” explained Gabor via Zoom.
Pop your zip code into their website and you’ll see a laundry list of places you can drop off used batteries – everything from the lithium-ion type in gadgets to your run of the mill AAs.
“These batteries can have materials in them that can be reclaimed or reused,” explained Gabor.
One thing to note: Staples often comes up in the list of results since they generally run a really generous recycling program (where you could basically drop off various gadgets to be recycled) but currently, that program is on pause due to the pandemic.
Still, Best Buy is continuing to accept items for trade-in or recycling. Use the tool on their website to see if your used gadget is worth anything. Even my kid’s old iPad with a broken screen can net me a $30 Best Buy gift card.
Alternatively, you can drop off many items for recycling at Best Buy stores. For certain items, like TVs and computer monitors, they may assess a small fee if the law allows.
Apple also accepts items for trade-in or recycling, even if they’re not Apple products. Right now, since many Apple stores are closed, the program is online only.
You can check to see if you can use your old gadget to get a credit towards a shiny new Apple product, or just follow the steps to get a return label to send in items including printers and cables.
Amazon also has a trade-in site to help you get credit for old devices including Kindles, tablets, streaming sticks, and more. Sadly, many old streaming sticks will only net you 99 cents. If you’d rather just send an item in for recycling, you can use Amazon’s Recycling site to get a prepaid shipping label.
There, I saw the proper disposal process explained. Customers drop off unwanted items and the state reimburses the local facility for properly disposing of them. The funds come from small fees you pay every time you buy a new gadget.
Just be sure that before you recycle anything with your personal data on it that you “wipe” the device clean. On iOS and Android, this is called a factory reset. With hard drives, it’s a bit tricker, but the location we visited has a dedicated industrial shredder that can make mincemeat of old hard drives and smartphones (batteries removed first!).
eWaste owner Armen Manukyan told me that customers can pay $10 to watch their hard drive destroyed before their eyes. It’s everyone’s favorite part, he says. (Popcorn not included)
“A lot of these electronics contain hazardous waste and reusable materials that we get to extract and send back to the manufacturers,” explained Manukyan. “Any hazardous waste that we keep from the landfill is good for our environment and good for us in the community.”