Why Recycle?

There are plenty of reasons to recycle your old electronics. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that more than 40 million computers become obsolete and are discarded every year. However, only 15 percent of these computers are recycled, which means that 85 percent of them end up in landfills across the country. In addition to computers, millions more cell phones, computer peripherals and audio equipment end up in dumps. These electronic devices contain dangerous chemicals, including mercury, that can contaminate the earth.

What Can Be Recycled

Virtually any electronic device can be recycled. Old computers and cell phones are the easiest to find recycling centers for, but audio equipment, such as speakers, sound systems and portable music devices, can also be recycled. If you are unsure of whether an electronic device can be recycled or not, call your district's EPA eCycling agent (see Resources for a link to specific people you can contact in reference to recycling electronics).

Donating vs. Repurposing

There are two main ways you can recycle electronics: donating and repurposing. Donating is a fairly popular method for recycling telephones and computers, as many underprivileged people and communities around the world are in need of these technology basics. Repurposing, however, is good for older electronics, as it takes the components from the electronic devices, including metals, wires and battery parts, and turns them into new devices.



Finding a Recycling Center

If you are trying to recycle cell phones or computers, finding a recycling center is fairly easy. Finding recycling centers for other types of electronic devices can be a little bit more challenging, but when in doubt, you can always check with your local EPA eCycling agent.

Preparing Your Device for Recycling

After you have found a recycling center, it is important to prepare your device for recycling. Although rare, identity thieves have been known to reboot items discarded for recycling. So before you recycle it, make sure to wipe the device's memory completely and drain the battery to 0 percent.