By Mariella Moon, Tecca
Do you have old or broken electronics lying around? Instead of taking them straight to the dump, why not e-cycle them instead? Numerous e-cycling services exist that can do the job for you. Several of these programs are take-back initiatives run by the same tech companies that made your devices. If you have an old computer in your garage or a phone in the bottom of your drawer waiting to be sent out for e-cycling, chances are one of your options is the device’s manufacturer itself.
How do take-back programs work?
Some programs require you to bring your electronics to drop-off sites. For tech retailers, drop-off sites could be their stores or the offices of separate e-cycling companies they’re partnered with. Drop box options also exist for some companies that recycle small devices.
Other companies run mail-back operations, providing labels that you can download online and print for free shipping. Some even have options that pay you for old but still functional devices that you don’t use anymore. Different services have different terms. Several of these initiatives require users to pay a fee to e-cycle electronics manufactured by other brands; others are completely free.
What happens to e-cycled devices?
Devices in good working condition could be resold for use. If they’re a bit battered but still work, they’re refurbished first. And if they’re hopeless cases of electronic junk, then they’re disassembled so that some materials (including valuable metals from their innards) can be salvaged and reused.
10 e-cycling initiatives from tech manufacturers
- MRM recycling MRM is a free service run by Panasonic, Sharp, Toshiba, VIZIO, and Mitsubishi. But it also accepts products from a number of other companies — all you have to do is bring your device to an MRM location. Want to know if there’s a drop-off site near your place? Check out MRM’s locator. The website also lists other participating companies and warns consumers of locations that don’t accept particular brands.
- Apple recycling program Apple’s program accepts both computers and mobile devices. If you plan on sending in a non-Apple product, you’ll have to fork over up to $30 in fees (unless you’re buying a new Mac, that is). If your old Apple products (iPod, iPhone, or Mac computers) qualify for reuse, you get a gift card with an amount that corresponds to the value of your device.
- Dell Reconnect and at-home pick-up program Dell’s Reconnect program requires you to bring you electronics to a Goodwill branch. Don’t know where the nearest one is? Use Reconnect’s locatorto find one. Aside from computers and peripherals, Reconnect also accepts Microsoft Zune and Xbox units. Its pick-up program lets you send your devices through FedEx by printing a shipping label from the Reconnect page.
- Sony has three take-back services in place — one drop-off program for your large electronics, the GreenFill drop-box solution for your smaller devices, and the Green Glove TV removal service.
- Samsung recycling Samsung offers two separate drop-off programs for computers and mobile devices, a toner recycling program, and a mail-back program.
- BlackBerry recycling program If you’re from Connecticut, Maine, or Washington, you can skip this one — BlackBerry’s recycling initiative isn’t available in those states. Everyone else in the United States can download a prepaid shipping label and send in any BlackBerry smartphone, PlayBook, or peripheral for e-cycling.
- Nokia recycling Nokia has dedicated drop-off sites called Nokia Care Points all over the globe where you can leave your old devices, although some Nokia stores also serve as drop-off locations. The company runs a mail-back program exclusively in the United States, as well.
- Motorola Mobility Motorola’s take-back program accepts any brand and kind of mobile phone and accessory. In the United States, Motorola accepts modems, cordless phones, and routers, too.
- HP product return and recycling HP accepts computer equipment and peripherals, LCDs, and plasma TVs, even from other brands. Aside from the standard recycling program, HP also offers a cash back program as well as a trade-in service that allows you to swap your old equipment for newer models, depending on their market values.
- LG U.S. recycling program LG runs a mail-back service that accepts most handhelds and small electronics from any brand for free. LG accepts larger-sized electronics like computers through a drop-off service.
Considering other e-cycling options
Other than manufacturer e-cycling initiatives, you have plenty of other options to choose from. Tech retailers like Best Buy offer free e-cycling servicesthat work pretty much like the programs above. You might also have local options available near your home or office.
If you’re looking to dispose of old phones in particular, check out our guide to cell phone e-cycling. But before you go and start bidding your old gadgets farewell, we’d like to leave you with a reminder — if a device has the capacity to save data in any form, never forget to wipe it completely clean after backing it up prior to sending it out for e-cycling.