Electronics Reuse and Recycling

Electronic waste is the term used for any unwanted electronic – computers, cell phones, printers, MP3 player, GPS, TV, VCR, alarm clocks, hair dryers etc. The list gets longer with each technological advance. In the U.S. alone, 14 to 20 million PCs are thrown out every year. The items in the picture, are the things I found in my house without much looking. There are still 2 computers, a couple of old hard drives and possibly a walkman lurking in the basement!
E-Waste contains toxic substances such as mercury, lead and cadmium so it needs to be disposed of properly. With proper disposal,

  1. these harmful materials can be dealt with so they do not contaminate our soil, water or air and
  2. useful materials such as aluminum, gold, and silver are reclaimed and reused.
Besides not tossing your old cell phone in the trash, you need to make sure you recycle it with a reputable recycler. There has been much in the news recently about electronics being dumped in 3rd world countries and possibly burned.

The Westford Recycling Commission has 3 electronics recycling events throughout the year in March, June, and September. If you missed the last one, and don’t want to wait until June 25, here are some other options.

Best Buy has several options including a Trade-in program for electronics in good condition.

  • What Most electronics including tube TVs and monitors (up to 32″), flat panel TVs and monitors (up to 60”), DVD players, audio, cell phones, MP3 players, computers, vacuums, headphones, CDs and more.
  • Fees – Free, except $10 for TVs and monitors, but you will receive a $10 Best Buy gift card in exchange   Update 1/21/12 – seems that Best Buy is no longer charging $10 for TVs

  • How – Bring up to 3 items per household per day to any U.S. Best Buy store during normal store hours
Note: I just dropped off some items at the Best Buy in Nashua, NH. Apparently, they will not take the hard drives in computers. You need to remove them first, before they will take the rest of the computer. Luckily, we had done that already because I wanted to ask about their data policy.  Not too happy about this, but I recycled my printer, some cables, the rest of the computers and dead ear buds all in one trip!

Update 1/21/12 – Best Buy, according to their website:
In the case of hard drives on laptops or desktop PCs, customers have the choice to remove their data themselves, or they can consult with a Geek Squad® Agent about services we offer to remove the hard drive before handing the PC over to be recycled. 
To remove the data yourself and wipe your hard drive clean of your personal data, see this videofrom Geek Squad®. 
You are responsible for removing any data from your device before providing the product to us. Under no circumstances shall Best Buy be liable for any loss of any data or media from products delivered to us for trade in or recycling.

If you have something fairly new that you think might be worth some money, Gazelle will buy it from you for resale at their store.

Verizon’s Hopeline program donates refurbished cell phones to victims of domestic abuse.

  • What – Cell Phones and their batteries and accessories

  • Fee – Free

  • How – Ship phone with a prepaid label

  • What – TVs (under 27″), computers, monitors, air conditioners, microwaves, and more

  • Fees – Vary from $10 – $20

  • How – Arrange for a pickup by calling Melissa at 774-776-7200
Depending on what you are disposing of and it’s condition, there is an option out there. You might even get some cash!

This post is part of Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways.


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