If your electronics wind up in a landfill, they don’t just leave behind wires and plastic (which is a huge problem in itself). If dumped or improperly disposed of, e-waste can damage you and the environment. Most electronics contain toxic materials like lead, flame retardants, and chromium. These materials can cause damage to human kidneys, the blood and the nervous system, Ilene Lubell, president of the Mayer Metals Corporation, which recycles old electronics for businesses, wrote in a blog post.
When electronics are dumped or thrown away incorrectly, those toxins can leak into landfill, groundwater, and vaporize into the atmosphere when heated, according to Lubell. There are a number of eco-friendly ways to dispose of your old electronics that could potentially help people in need or in underserved communities. It’s important to note that the disposal protocol can differ by device.
Behind the scenes, devices are recycled, refurbished or redistributed. Sometimes they’re mined for parts, or melted down to extract the rare earth materials within. Apple’s Material Recovery Lab in Texas uses robots to dismantle iPhones at a rate of 200 devices per hour.
When you’re finished with batteries or a gadget, make sure it’s also finished with you. Even though it might be old, someone just needs a charger to reboot your old phone or computer to get to your personal data.
The moral of this story: Make sure to back up anything you want off the device– photos, videos, songs, etc. and then perform a factory reset — don’t worry, we’ll give you pointers on wiping your device in the sections on phones, laptops and cameras below.
There are a couple ways you can properly dispose of the single-use and rechargable batteries, like AA, AAA and D-cell batteries that are common in flashlights, toys and other household electronics.
Best Buy, Whole Foods, Home Depot, Lowes and Staples all have free drop-off spots to take dead batteries off your hands. We suggest collecting your used batteries in a container and taking them in when it starts to get full.
You could also check out Earth911, a website that helps you find the nearest recycling location based on the type of battery you need to dispose of (e.g., alkaline, button cell, lithium, zinc-air, etc.). Call2Recycle can also help you find places to recycle your batteries.
Smartphones and their batteries are one of the easiest electronics to recycle, according to Call2Recycle
Remember to transfer any data and photos on your old phone to a new phone, or otherwise save your photos before performing a factory reset. Remember to remove the SIM card, if it’s still there.
The company accepts all phones and batteries regardless of size, make, model or age. Call2Recycle can refurbish the device for resale or recycle the materials for a new device. If you look hard enough, you can even get paid for recycling your phone.
If your phone is recent enough, you may be able to trade it in to a carrier if you’re buying a new phone, or sell it on the open market. Otherwise, if it’s lost a lot of value, recycling may be your best bet for getting a dusty phone off your hands.