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What to Do With Old Electronics

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a pile of tube televisions and computer monitors

A Complete Guide to Electronics Disposal

With technology advancing at a rapid rate, electronic waste, or e-waste, is at an all-time high. In fact, according to the EPA, 2.84 million tons of e-waste was generated in 2017. That number is sure to climb as we accumulate more devices, which is predicted to be 13.6 devices per household by 2023 — up from 8.4 devices in 2018. However, if you aren’t getting rid of your electronics properly, there are hazardous materials that could be introduced into the environment such as beryllium, lead and mercury. Additionally, e-waste contains materials that can be recycled such as nickel and zinc.

From donation to disposal, check out the choices below to see what the best e-waste disposal option is for you.

1. Sell

If your devices still work, you could try selling them for some extra money. The list below is a great place to start when looking for ways to sell your electronics.

A Couple at a Yard Sale
A Goodwill Donations Sign on a Brick Building

2. Donate

Donating electronics in working condition not only keeps them out of landfills, but it can make a difference for someone in need. Contact your local charity, homeless shelter or other non-profit organization to see if they are accepting donations. Otherwise, consider these national donation centers:

3. Recycle

Another way to get rid of electronics is recycling. E-waste usually contains metal and other reusable materials, so recycling electronic waste is one of the more environmentally-friendly options available. However, only 1.02 million tons of e-waste was recycled in 2017 — or just 35.9%. Many electronic stores have a recycling program that could include a store credit incentive. Check out the list below to see some of the e-waste recycling options available.

Electronic Waste in a Bin
photo of an e-waste recycling event

4. Collection Events

Electronics may be considered hazardous waste in your city or state because they contain materials like mercury. In fact, 19 states — as well as Washington, D.C. — already have banned e-waste from landfills. As a result, many cities offer special e-waste collection days throughout the year. Call or visit the website of your local government to find where to drop off electronics at upcoming collection events, and ask about these standard regulations that often apply:

  • Are there fees involved?
  • Is an appointment required?
  • Is there a limit to how much you can drop off?

5. Curbside Collection

If your city offers bulky item pickup, electronics may be something you can toss curbside. However, keep in mind that each city has its own rules and regulations when it comes to what items are accepted. Before taking your e-waste to the curb, call or visit the website of your local government to make sure they’ll accept your old electronics and to ask if some of these common restrictions apply:

  • Appointment or prior approval needed for pickup.
  • Extra fees for electronics removal with regular trash.
  • Limits on the number of electronic items left curbside.
A Pile of Televisions on a Tree Lawn
a junk removal service carries a flat screen tv down a set of stairs

6. Hire a Junk Removal Service

A junk hauling company may be a good option to get rid of your e-waste, but it really depends on the amount you have to toss. Some junk removal services will offer individual item pricing, but it is more common to find pricing based on how much space your items take up in their truck — often with a minimum price that covers 1/8th of a truck. If a junk removal service seems like the right option for you, keep in mind it typically involves:

  • Presorting of items before the company arrives.
  • Rates that may include paying for space you don’t use.
  • Team members entering your home to remove the electronics.

7. Rent a Dumpster

If you’re working through a home cleanout or junk removal project that includes electronics, getting a residential dumpster rental may be the most convenient disposal option for you. However, some cities and states have restrictions or extra fees for sending e-waste to landfills. To learn more about e-waste disposal practices in your area, give us a call.

The benefits of renting a dumpster include:

  • All-inclusive prices.
  • Ability to work at your own pace.
  • Delivery where and when you need it.
  • Various container sizes to fit your needs.
a pile of e-waste in a roll off dumpster
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How to Secure Your Data Before Disposal

Whether you’re throwing out a computer, cell phone or television, you should take steps to ensure that your personal information is kept safe. If you opt to use a professional service, the EPA recommends using a company with either R2 or e-Stewards certification. If you want to secure your devices yourself, follow these steps to eliminate your data.

If you don’t already have your data backed up, now’s the time to do it. The most common options are to use an external hard drive or one of the various cloud storage options. However, if you already have a replacement, you can also do a direct data transfer to the new device.

Need to Dispose of a Specific Electronic Device?

Click on the electronic device you need to toss for disposal tips. Item not listed? Give our team a call at 877-814-9781.

How to Throw Away a TV

Sometimes you need to throw away an old TV. How to do it can be a bit tricky, but we’ve got your back. Check out the sections below to see if tossing, selling, donating or recycling is the best option for you.

Did You Know: Tube televisions are one of the hardest electronic devices to throw away because they contain hazardous materials like mercury and lead. The best way to toss these TVs is a hazardous waste collection event.

an old tv on a table in a corner

Where Can I Throw Away an Old TV?

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Dumpster Rental

Renting a roll off dumpster is great if you have a TV to toss as part of a home cleanout. However, there may be restrictions due to local regulations.

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Curbside Trash Pickup

Electronics are usually only collected on bulk pickup day and extra fees may apply. Some cities no longer take certain items, so call to see if your e-waste is accepted.

e-waste collection event icon
Local Collection Events

Many states consider e-waste hazardous. If that’s your situation, you can take your television to a collection event. Call ahead to find out details and any fees that apply.

Other Ways to Toss a TV

Can I Sell My TV?

Maybe you got lucky and won a new TV in a raffle or someone gave you one as a gift. Whatever the reason, if your old one is still works, there’s no reason to pitch it if you can get something for it.

Wherever you decide to sell your old TV, make sure you present the buyer with as much information as you can to avoid any issues. Things to include are:

  • Age.
  • Make and model.
  • Special features.
  • Issues or damage.
  • Photos that give a 360-degree view.

Other Ways to Get Rid of Phones and Tablets

Can I Sell My Phone or Tablet?

Secondhand phone and tablet sales are more common than you might think. However, there are some factors you should know before you put your old device on the market.

  • Some SIM cards are specific to a carrier. If your SIM card is carrier-specific, let the buyer know so they can either get a new SIM card or consider switching to that network.
  • In addition to providing the make and model of your phone or tablet, it’s a good idea to share what generation phone you have. Newer generations sometimes have different features.
  • Be honest if your device is a refurbished product. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, but some people may prefer a non-repaired phone or tablet.

Can I Recycle My TV?

If you can’t donate or sell your old television, the most environmentally-friendly disposal option is often to recycle it. Some electronics recycling centers even offer cash for the metals they contain. You can use online resources like RecyclerFinder to find a recycling center near you.

If you can’t find a location in your area, many electronics companies have takeback or buyback programs. Additionally, brands like LG, Vizio, Samsung, Sony and others have drop-off locations where they ensure that your TV will be collected and properly recycled — with some even offering credit for a future purchase as added incentive.

infographic of television recycling facts

How to Toss Computers and Accessories

Computers are electronic devices that quickly become outdated. Fortunately, there are plenty of options to get rid of your old laptops, monitors, printers and other computer accessories. From trash to donation, we’ll break down the options to get rid of your computer, along with solutions to specific computer parts.

a pile of computer equipment next to a trash can

Where Can I Throw Away an Old Computer?

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Dumpster Rental

Renting a roll off dumpster is an easy option to get rid of computers without leaving your home. Depending on your location, restrictions may apply.

curbside trash cart icon
Curbside Trash Pickup

In most locations, electronics are only collected on bulk pickup day, and extra fees may apply. Call ahead to see if electronics are accepted.

e-waste collection event icon

Local Collection Events

Your state may classify e-waste as hazardous, making collection events an option for computer disposal. Be sure to call ahead to ask for details.

Other Ways to Get Rid of a Computer

Can I Sell My Computer?

Selling your old laptop is a great way to get rid of your device while making a bit of money, whether you're a college student looking for an affordable laptop or a parent replacing the old family computer. Be upfront about the computer’s condition, including the age of the device, operating software and any past virus issues you have had.

Keep In Mind: Always back up and delete any personal data before you sell your device to a stranger.

Can I Donate My Computer?

People often upgrade their computer equipment even though their older models still work, and some non-profits would be happy to have them, provided they are not too outdated. Additionally, many schools embrace technology and integrate computer use as an essential part of education. Consider calling your local and neighboring school districts to see if they are in need of your old computer.

If your local options don’t pan out, consider some of these national nonprofits to donate your computer:

infographic of computer donation facts

How Do I Dispose of Specific Computer Parts?

When it’s time to get rid of your old laptop, follow these steps to make sure you protect your data and dispose of your device in the best way for you:

  1. Deactivate or deauthorize any subscription services that can only be used on a specific number of devices.

  2. Back up your info, then clear personal data by resetting your laptop to factory settings.

  3. Remove anything that might be in a slot, USB port, HDMI dock or any other attachment method.

  4. See if the laptop manufacturer offers any sort of buyback or trade-in program.

  5. Consider donation, selling or recycling.

  6. Take to a hazardous waste collection or dispose of your old laptop in an environmentally friendly way.

Tablet and Cell Phone Disposal Options

When you’re upgrading to the latest smartphone or tablet, you’ll need to figure out how to get rid of your old one. Check out the sections below to see if tossing, selling, donating or recycling is the best option for you.

a pile of flip phones

Can You Throw Away A Phone or Tablet?

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Dumpster Rental

If you’re cleaning out your home and come across an old cell phone or tablet, go ahead and throw it in your roll off dumpster rental.

curbside trash cart icon
Curbside Trash Pickup

Phones and tablets are not considered bulk items like other e-waste. Check with your government to see if electronics are allowed in your curbside trash.

e-waste collection event icon
Local Collection Events

Hazardous waste collection events are often the best place to get rid of your devices if your state considers e-waste hazardous. Call ahead to find out details.

Can I Recycle My Phone?

Recycling your old phone is a great option to keep materials out of a landfill that could have been reused. Phones contain metals such as copper, silver, gold and palladium — all of which can be recycled. Additionally, parts of your phone, such as the screen or battery, can be removed and reused to refurbish another phone, further keeping materials out of landfills.

Many retailers like Best Buy, T-Mobile and Verizon have recycling programs and offer a store credit. Otherwise, finding a nearby ecoATM will help you get your phone to a certified e-waste recycler.

infographic of cell phone recycling facts

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Electronics Disposal FAQs

Is it illegal to throw away electronics?

At least 19 states — and Washington, D.C. — have banned e-waste from landfills. In those places, it is illegal to throw away e-waste. Other states may still consider electronics to be hazardous waste and strongly caution against sending them to landfills.

Where can I throw away old electronics?

There are many ways to dispose of electronics. Consider one of the following options: recycle, donate, hazardous waste collection events, sell, curbside pickup or rent a dumpster.

What happens to discarded electronic devices?

Electronic devices in landfills will not naturally decompose. Additionally, they may leak hazardous substances into the environment if they are not properly disposed of.

What electronics can be thrown away?

Any electronic device can be thrown away if your local government allows it. If e-waste is banned in your state, consider recycling your device or taking it to a hazardous waste collection event.

More Disposal Resources

Looking for some other tips on e-waste recycling, dumpster rentals and other disposal needs? Check out the advice in some of our blog posts, resources and disposal guides.