We all love our electronics – we use them every day, from smartphones, to laptops, to speakers, to smart watches, to gaming consoles, and everything in between. We also love upgrading our electronics, and unfortunately, nothing lasts forever. Our devices break or become obsolete. When an electronic device is no longer useful or wanted, this is known as e-waste.
All electronics eventually become e-waste; in 2019, the UN reported that 56.3 million tons of e-waste was discarded, and only 17% of it was disposed of correctly. It’s important to dispose of e-waste properly because electronic devices can contain a variety of toxic substances like cadmium, mercury, and lead. When thrown out, these materials are sent to a landfill and can end up spreading into the environment, which is harmful in many ways. E-waste should also be recycled because many of the materials can be reused by electronics manufacturers, such as glass, copper, steel, and aluminum. When you have an electronic device that is obsolete, broken, or simply won’t be used anymore, you have many options for proper disposal.
It’s always a good idea to try to sell your used electronics before just getting rid of them. This especially applies to devices that are still in working condition, and even some that aren’t – one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. This is not only a sustainable and ethical way to get rid of electronics, but it gives you some return on your investment.
List your device on sites like eBay and Facebook Marketplace, or Reverb for musical equipment. You can also contact local electronics repair services to see if they have a use for your devices.
Not all electronics can be sold, and sometimes it isn’t worth the hassle of selling a device. There are many charities and nonprofits that collect old electronics, but there are often limitations on the types of devices you can donate. Contact your local donation service to make sure they will accept your electronics. If they won’t, ask for a recommendation to another donation center that will.
Sometimes, it’s simply time for an electronic device to be recycled. There are many simple ways to properly recycle your e-waste:
Take it to an electronics manufacturer: Most tech companies and retailers offer recycling programs. Some of the most versatile programs are at Best Buy, Apple, and Amazon. Some companies even offer a gift card compensation for recycling devices, depending on the type of device. Most companies only accept their own brand of devices, so check with the company you got the device from first.
Take it to a recycling center: The Australian Government’s National Television and Computer Recycling Scheme has approved of four organisations for electronics collection.
Find your local recycling center or the nearest drop-off location. You can check out a list of acceptable electronics here. Alternatively, call the center to ask if your devices are accepted. Most centers will accept other types of devices not listed, such as mobile phones and batteries. Additionally, some organisations offer curbside pickup services, so you don’t even have to drive anywhere.
You can use a database like Planet Ark RecyclingNearYou to find a recycling center near you.