How to Dispose of Your Electronics Responsibly (2023)


One thing to keep in mind when trying to repair a phone, laptop, or other device with a battery is to dry the battery before opening it. To fix on the main white-good equipment, rubber gloves and rubber boots reduce the risk of shock.

If you’re not confident enough to attempt a repair, you can find a good local repair shop by reading reviews. The Federal Trade Commission has found that independent repair shops have the same success rate and safety record as manufacturer shops. Many manufacturers have discouraged repairs because of the risk of voiding warranties, but the victories of the right-to-repair movement have made the technology relatively repairable.

Be careful to back up and protect sensitive data on your devices before handing them in for repair shops. Some devices may even have a built-in solution. For example, Samsung phone owners can activate maintenance mode before turning off the device to ensure that photos and accounts cannot be accessed.

Sell ​​or trade

You can make some money if you sell old equipment. Even broken devices can be sold for parts, although they always command a higher price if you clean and repair them first. You can also discount new items with trade-in or return plans. We’ve got guides on how to sell or trade in your iPhone (remember to factory reset it first) and how to sell your smartwatch or fitness tracker.

You can generally command the highest payouts by selling directly to people on eBay, Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, or Nextdoor. Just remember that you’ll need to arrange shipping or contact to exchange the item, and buyers often like to drag it out.

Consider sites like Swap, Declutter, or GadgetPickup for a hassle-free sale. These types of buyers use online surveys to determine prices and often offer free postage. Shop around and see who offers the best price, but be honest in your statement, or you may find your price drops after an inspection.

Return or trade-in programs are another easy option, although you may not earn as much as you would like on a sale, and you can often get your payment as store credit. Best Buy, Amazon, Verizon, Samsung, Walmart and many others offer deals on electronics.

Donate

If you like the idea of ​​your old electronics doing some good, consider donating them to a worthy cause. Chamberlain said Goodwill is one of the best options because the company has a strong recycling hierarchy and aims to get as much out of electronics as it can before recycling them. You can also find local charities that accept electronics through Donation Town.

Cell Phones is a non-profit organization that sends prepaid cell phones to soldiers overseas so they can communicate with soldiers. Recycle Health is another non-profit organization that collects fitness trackers and gives them to underserved populations to encourage physical activity.

Research and recycling

Some of the places we mentioned earlier recycle non-recyclable equipment, and it’s worth checking that the original manufacturer of your equipment has a recycling mechanism. Retailers like Best Buy and Staples will recycle your old phones, laptops and other electronics.

Local facilities that help recycle and recycle electronics sometimes have drop-in events in the community, Seibert said, and local municipalities often have electronics collections once or twice a year, so it’s worth checking to see if there are any planned in your area.

Unfortunately, not all recycling centers and schemes are created equal. SERI manages the R2 standard to develop best practices to protect the environment, worker health and safety, and natural resources. An R2-certified facility ensures that any used electronics are manufactured responsibly, including residual data on devices. While most aren’t configured to delete users, there’s a search tool to check for those that do.

You can also find a long list of international ewaste recycling links on iFixit, check out Call 2 Recycling for Batteries and find recycling locations on Earth 911.


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