When you get a new smart phone, TV, printer or any other electronic device, what do you do with the old one? Hopefully, the answer isn’t “throw it away”. With e-waste swiftly becoming one of the greatest environmental threats of our time, consumers and companies must reconsider what they do with outdated electronics. Fortunately, there are alternatives that keep devices out of the landfill, giving them a new lease on life or allowing raw materials to be reused.
The majority of ‘obsolete’ electronics are still functional, so one of the best things you can do with them is give them away. Old office equipment and home electronics can find use at schools and non-profit organizations or be given to families in need. Many charities exist that pick up and deliver electronic devices, with varying rules on what they can accept. As a rule of thumb, donation is only an option for devices that still work, though some organizations can refurbish accepted devices to best suit their destination.
End-of-life devices—those that no longer function and can’t feasibly be repaired—contain materials both valuable and hazardous. Recycling facilities that are properly equipped can process what would otherwise become e-waste to allow safer disposal and collection of reusable materials. This is often the best option for businesses with large stocks of obsolete equipment they need to remove, usually when upgrading IT assets. Many computer recycling services also perform data destruction for clients, ensuring that old hard drives and other storage media don’t contain any sensitive information, a service especially valuable for businesses.
Trade-In and Buyback Programs
Since the most common case of needing to dispose of old electronics is when getting a replacement or upgrade, some retailers and manufacturers accept used products in exchange for cash, store credit, gift cards or as part of payment towards a new device. Manufacturers typically only buy products from their brand, and retailers may vary based on types or brands of devices accepted. However, this can be a valuable option if you’re in need of a new phone or laptop, so it’s worth researching to find eligible buyback programs. Devices bought back this way are often either recycled or sold as used.
Much can be done with used or outdated electronics beyond simply throwing them away. Whether for the sake of the environment, to help others in need or simply a bit of spending money, it’s well worth your time to find a way to donate or recycle your old devices.