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What is e-waste? And why we should recycle electronics?

If you like to keep up with the latest technology, you probably have a pile of electronic castoffs somewhere in the house, garage or possibly in the garbage. But, it’s so much better -- for you and the planet -- to recycle them instead of throwing them away. 


5 reasons for electronic recycling:

1. Savvy “pickers” can get valuable information off your electronics

Even if you think you’ve deleted all of the personal data off your cell phone or other device, hackers who know what they’re doing can still get information that could be used to steal your identity.


2. Toxic materials inside electronics can cause air and water pollution and greenhouse gases

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), we can save the energy equivalent of the electricity used by more than 3,500 homes in a year, by recycling 1 million laptop computers.1


3. It’s illegal in some states to toss old electronics

So far, 25 states have passed some form of e-waste recycling legislation – covering 65% of the U.S. population -- with more states working on similar laws, according to Electronics Takeback Coalition.2 That means you have to recycle a broad range of electronics, such as TVs, computers, tablets, cell phones, DVD players, game consoles and fax machines.


4. A lot of recyclable materials come from electronics

As an example, for every million cell phones recycled, here are the materials that can be recovered:

  • 35,000 lbs of copper
  • 772 lbs of silver
  • 75 lbs of gold
  • 35 lbs of palladium

As an example, for every million cell phones recycled, here are the materials that can be recovered:

aerial image of person on ipad

5. Many retailers will take them off your hands (and wipe them clean)

The easiest way to get rid of your electronics is to take them to a local retailer, non-profit or local government recycling program location. They’ll recycle your technology and make sure it doesn’t get into the wrong hands.

  • Apple provides free recycling for any brand of computer. Plus, you can trade in your iPhone and get 10% off some other product trade-ins.
  • Staples takes back many electronics for free recycling, thanks to a partnership with Hewlett-Packard.
  • Other retailers, like Best Buy, offer programs and incentives for recycling electronics.
  • Call2Recycle has 34,000 drop-off locations for rechargeable batteries and cell phones.


So next time you need a new laptop or cell phone, recycle the old one. Consider upgrading the hardware or software in your computer, instead of buying a new one. If you have to have the latest electronics, make sure you delete all of your personal information off of your old one first, then recycle it at a reputable location.