It’s easy for us to throw away items into our trash cans, down our garbage disposal, and into landfills. No one ever really thinks twice about where these products end up, or how they are properly disposed of when they reach a landfill. On the contrary, we should think twice about throwing away certain materials. These include biohazardous waste, personal information, chemicals, and of course, electronics. Electronics fill our everyday lives and are almost part of us. We use them every single day, be it cell phones, laptops, desktops, smart cars, you name it. But what happens when these items stop working? Is it safe to simply throw these items away in the trash? Below, we’ll cover some important tips on how to properly dispose of your electronics, and where to go for help and advice.
1. Cell Phones
Cell phones last much longer than they did in recent years, with cell phones nowadays being able to last up to three or four years. Cell phones, unfortunately, are also prone to fires when disposed of in a landfill. It’s important to make every effort to donate or properly dispose of your cell phone through an electronic disposal service. Many states now offer free disposal services. All you have to do is place your cell phone in a box with a pre-printed shipping label and send it off to the recycling plant that will take care of your cell phone.
You can also take your cell phone to a local phone shop, especially if it’s a newer model. If your cell phone has a battery, such as a lithium battery, and is an older model, make sure to take the battery out before donating it or giving it to a disposal service. Cell phones are fairly easy to dispose of, and you can even try to donate them to another person or to a shelter.
It’s also a good idea to clear out any information and data in your phone before getting rid of it. Not clearing out data can leave you susceptible to identity theft or fraud. To clear out your data, remove the SIM card in your phone if it is present. If you have a newer smartphone, do a factory reset which will get rid of all data that’s found on the phone. This ensures that no one will have access to your information once you donate or recycle your phone.
Laptops are also fairly easy to donate and get rid of. Laptops can be used for a wide variety of reasons, and are highly valuable tools when running a business. Laptops make it easy to work from any location, making them an essential tool for managed IT services. If your laptop is now old or outdated, research a laptop dropoff area near you. You can look up these drop-off areas online by simply Googling your zip code and a nearby center. If your laptop is still in relatively good condition, you can always try to donate it to your local library or school. They can also refurbish your laptop for you.
Desktops are older, bulkier, and are oftentimes more difficult to donate than newer laptops. It’s important to follow the same steps for getting rid of your desktop as getting rid of your laptop. This includes wiping the hard drive to get rid of sensitive information on your computer. You can also do this even if your desktop won’t turn on anymore. Simply take it to a computer expert who will clean your desktop off and ensure your privacy remains safe. Afterward, look for a recycling facility that is certified by Sustainable Electronics Recycling International. This will ensure your desktop is donated to an area where no child labor is used to dismantle and recycle your desktop.
4. Computer Hardware
Computer hardware is wonderful to re-use and upcycle. If you’re into building computers, you can use these computer hardware parts to build a new computer or refurbish an old one. Computer hardware parts can also be traded online on sites such as eBay, either for free or for money! Computer hardware, such as chips and motherboards, are incredibly useful if they still function. Unfortunately, sometimes computer hardware can become damaged from things such as fire and water. If you have damaged hardware, make sure to reach out to an e-waste recycling plant and ask if they can recycle your hardware for you.
There are various batteries that you can recycle, ranging from small double-A batteries to lithium batteries found in laptops, and also car batteries. Smaller alkaline and zinc batteries can be safely disposed of in the trash depending on your local health department. For larger-sized lithium-ion batteries, it’s best to research a facility that specializes in recycling these types of batteries.
Larger car batteries are a bit trickier to dispose of. Larger car batteries must be removed from the vehicle, and you can do this yourself or with the help of a mechanic. Once you remove the battery, take it to any local car mechanic or a chain auto supply store such as Pep Boys or Autozone. These stores can not only sell you another car battery, but they can also properly dispose of your car’s battery or recycle it for other purposes. Batteries are a mix of chemicals and electronic components, and under no circumstances can they be thrown in the trash. When in doubt, take it to a local junkyard.
6. Restaurant Equipment
Most restaurants use a POS system to take orders, take down customer information, and also accept payments. POS systems should be disposed of much in the same way as laptops. These systems are highly specialized, so they might be trickier to donate. If you know someone that specializes in refurbishing restaurant or POS equipment, pay them a visit so they can refurbish and fix your system. Otherwise, make sure you clear all information from the POS, including restaurant information, customer information, and other information on the point of sales system.
7. Internet Equipement
The internet is everywhere nowadays. To work properly in our homes, there are various internet products we need, such as cabling, wiring, and modems. These data center hardware products should also never be thrown away. They are vital to the operation of your internet and can be easily given to a phone service company after you are done using them. Many phone services also only offer internet equipment to be leased, so you have to return it once you move apartments or homes. If you’ve already bought your modem and are looking to upgrade to a new internet system, take it to a recycling center. Certain recycling centers will offer a small incentive for donating and recycling your modem, while others will not.
Refrigerators and other large appliances can be extremely heavy to move on your own. It’s best to call the help of local movers or your city’s waste removal to see what options you have for throwing away a refrigerator. If you’ve recently undergone an energy audit, and you were informed that your refrigerator might be taking up and using lots of energy, you might even be able to sell your fridge to your electrical company. They will offer you a rebate, which is a sort of incentive for donating your fridge. Refrigerators and other large appliances can also be donated to a local shelter. If it’s a newer fridge, you can even try to sell it on an online marketplace such as Facebook or Offer Up.
9. Home Air Conditioners
Much like refrigerators, you can try to see if your air conditioner qualifies for a rebate program. If you’ve already undergone the help of ac repair services and have been unable to fix your ac unit, it’s best to get rid of it. Older AC units are not only bulky and prone to breaking down, but they can also cost you hundreds in energy bills. Take your air conditioner to a local junkyard or scrapyard so it can be properly disposed of. Never attempt to remove an air conditioning unit on your own. An AC repair service will gladly come in and uninstall your unit, and they can also help you install a new one in your home.
10. Old Cars
Of all items to recycle, perhaps old cars are some of the most heartbreaking, yet necessary. Old cars also have electronic components that must be properly disposed of. From batteries to engines, and all parts in between, it’s best to seek the help of professional vehicle disposal services for old cars. You can try to restart your car with the help of automotive maintenance services. They can probably find a way so that you don’t have to completely get rid of your car. This can be a bit costly, but if you have the funds, this is a smart move if you want to save your old car and all the memories with it.
However, if your car is now older and is in poor shape, it’s best to dispose of it using a junk collection service. You can also attempt to sell your old car to car dealerships, who will buy it for pennies on the dollar and sell it for parts. If you know someone who is a car enthusiast and loves to work on old relics, feel free to let them know you have a car that’s in need of disposal or work. However, if you don’t know anyone that’s willing to work in your automobile, contact a vehicle disposal service. They can handle anything from tiny cars to huge RV’s.
Televisions are some of the most popular electronic items today, and for good reason. They are entertaining, slim, full of colorful pictures, and can be transported easily from one room to another. However, just because a television is slim and looks modern, this doesn’t mean you can throw it away in the trash. In fact, most cities do not allow television sets to be picked up from off the side of the road. This is especially true if you have an older TV set that is bulky. In order to dispose of your television, you will need to contact a recycling center ahead of time. Televisions have many cathodes and electrical components that can be hazardous when left in a landfill. Fortunately, BestBuy is the only major retailer in the U.S. that will gladly take your television off your hands! Keep in mind, they might limit the number of televisions you bring in per day. They might also not accept extremely large TV sets.
If your electrical contractors have recently come in and have done major upgrades on your home, chances are you have some leftover cables and wiring after the fact. Many electrical companies will take these off your hands once their work is complete. However, if you still have leftover wiring, you cannot throw them away in the trash. There are metals inside of these cables such as copper that can pose a hazard to the environment. These metals can easily be reused, so you shouldn’t throw away wiring. Instead, give it to your local e-recycling plant, or call your local city department for advice.
13. HVAC Systems
If you’ve recently had heating and AC maintenance done, and have been told your HVAC system must be replaced, your HVAC technicians are the perfect people to help you get rid of your unit. Because HVAC’s have electrical systems and chemicals such as refrigerant, it is illegal to leave them in the trash. Instead, have your HVAC contractors dispose of your system for you during the installation process of your new system.
Electronics and appliances make up a huge part of our life. When their time is up, it’s important to never throw these items away and harm the environment even further. Always reach out to a local recycling center for advice, and make every effort to upsell and recycle your electronics beforehand.