Many people today purchase a new cell phone, computer, TV, etc. regularly. Electronics manufacturers allocate large advertising budgets for promoting their latest products. Consequently, the amount of electronic waste produced by discarded and obsolete technological devices is substantial.
Discarded equipment is made from hazardous materials and chemicals like beryllium, brominated flame retardants, cadmium, lead, and mercury. When improperly disposed of, pollutants can contaminate the soil, groundwater, and air. Resulting health problems vary from brain damage and kidney disease to genetic mutations.
Disreputable companies that are more interested in profit than in environmental safety often ship and dump electronic waste illegally overseas. Improperly disposed electronic waste is left in a landfill or burned. Additionally, discarded computer hard drives that have intact personal and financial information give provide opportunities for cyber criminals overseas to prey on unsuspecting victims.
Fortunately, there are plenty of options for properly recycling and/or donating your used electronic devices.
Use a Certified e-Steward Electronic Waste Recycler
You can find a certified electronic waste recycler through the Basel Action Network (BAN). BAN is a non-profit organization that approves e-Stewards, recycling companies that safely recycle electronic devices. Certified e-Stewards take the Pledge of Responsible Recycling so that you can be assured that your electronic waste will not become a source of pollution in another country and/or a cyber criminal’s tool.
Consult the Environmental Protection Agency and Civic Institutions
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) provides numerous resources for recycling your electronic devices with its mobile, PC, and TV search engines. You can also query your local government, universities, and schools for additional safe recycling options. Numerous government offices and schools are assigning days when people can drop off unwanted electronic devices at a designated location.
Using Retail Recyclers
A number of retail stores operate safe recycling programs even though they aren’t part of BAN’S e-Steward program. Best Buy partners with recyclers who follow the highest standards of electronic waste disposal. Electronic waste brought to Best Buy stores will not be dumped overseas or in a landfill.
The Gettington website partners with CExchange, an e-Steward. Gettington allows people to recycle electronic waste with prepaid shipping containers. People can recycle old devices and receive money for some items.
Donate Your Old Electronic Devices
Reusing your electronic devices is even better than recycling. If your electronic devices are still viable, you can minimize electronic waste pollution and donate your old electronic devices.
For example, there are nonprofit organizations that provide cell phones to needy people. Verizon’s HopeLine program provides used cell phones to victims and survivors of domestic abuse.
An online marketplace named Gazelle will pay for old electronics. People can also organize through Gazelle a Gadget Drive to raise money for schools, nonprofit organizations, etc. Residents in your community will drop off their unwanted electronic devices, which will be shipped to Gazelle. Gazelle will then send a check for the donations and it will either resell the donations or ensure they are recycled properly.