Recycling Technology: Mobile Phones, Computers, and More

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Recent advances in technology have allowed consumers the chance to upgrade to electronic products that are energy-efficient, sleeker, and newer than their older counterparts. Many of us jump at the chance to upgrade our technology to something that has the latest features. Often times, this is done when nothing is wrong with the older device, other than it being a little outdated. Just because the product is outdated does not mean it does not work, and there are many ways to recycle one's older, unwanted gadgets, rather than trashing them. Through recycling, many non-working items can be refurbished and reused by someone else.

Not only can these electronics be used by others, but by recycling you can also benefit the environment. Did you know that for every one million cell phones recycled, there is enough energy saved to power over 185 households in the United States with electricity for one full year? For every 5,000 mobile phones recycled, 11,000 kilowatt-hours of energy is saved. Another neat fact you may not have been aware of is that laptops are kept for three years on average before an owner decides to upgrade, and cell phones are discarded after an average of 24 months.

Millions of consumer electronics are sold every year, and if every person who purchases a new product was to recycle the old one, imagine just how much this could help our world. There are many places that accept older electronics to be donated, recycled, or refurbished. On top of this, electronics recycling companies are encouraging consumers to participate in recycling programs to help keep these materials from ending up in landfills. Participating in recycling one's used electronics is helping to make the world a better place. Read on to see how you can contribute.

Mobile Phones

Before recycling or donating old cellular phones, people are encouraged to erase any personal information contained on the phone. Any data, texts, photos, or contacts that you would like to keep should be preserved. Use the phone’s user manual to find out how to clear any stored information on the phone's memory. You may also want to remove the SIM card, as there is information contained on it as well. Also, be sure to contact the service provider and terminate the wireless service if you haven't done so yet. Once the stored information is clear, the SIM card is removed, data is saved, and service is terminated, you can recycle or donate the phone. The following links will provide more information on how to recycle mobile phones properly.


There are many commercial retailers, local programs, and nonprofit organizations that offer programs for e-recycling but before participating, a person needs to prepare their computer prior to recycling. First, any files, documents, photos, and other sensitive information you want saved should be backed up to a disk, the new computer, or on a portable flash drive. You will then need to wipe the hard drive, as simply removing important information is not enough. This can be done using a software program, such as Nuke. Although cleaning the hard drive is a good idea, there may be information that is still stored on it, that has been missed by the initial wipe. There are programs that can help someone find this information. It may be best to simply remove the hard drive, and either store or destroy it. It does contain harmful materials, so it should not be thrown in the trash.

If you choose to donate your old computer to a nonprofit organization, you may qualify for a tax deduction, but should research whether you qualify or not. The links below provide more information as to how and where to recycle old computers.


Televisions should not be thrown in the trash or left on the street. Older models likely contain chemicals that are extremely toxic, and they should never be put in incinerators and landfills, even if this is legal to do in your particular state. Leaving old televisions on the street for someone to simply take means that they can be broken and possibly rained on. This may result in toxic chemicals being released into the ground water.

It is important to note that some recyclers export old televisions and simply dump them on developing nations. This can cause great harm and it is important to make sure these electronics are in the hands of responsible recyclers, and not just anyone who offers to rid you of your old television. There are some television manufacturers that have programs nationwide that will take unwanted televisions for free. The links provided lead to some of these manufacturers.

Printers, Scanners, Copiers, etc.

Many communities have banned simply throwing old office electronics away. These devices also contain hazardous toxins which may include arsenic, lead, and mercury. These can get into the ground soil, so in order to help keep people safe it is best to recycle, or give these items away. Copiers tend to have a hard drive which stores scanned information, so be sure clean the hard drive prior to getting rid of the equipment. Such items can be donated to the Salvation Army, Goodwill, or other nonprofit organizations, and by donating to these organizations a person may qualify for tax deductions. There are also various websites that can help you to find other people looking for pre-owned electronic items. Some manufacturers even offer buy-back programs through which old electronics can be mailed back free-of-charge. A few options for recycling old office equipment are listed below.

Cameras and Video Recorders

Any old audio or video equipment that you simply do not want to part with can be reused to set up a secondary home theater system in your home. This could work great in a family recreation room, a home office, or even a bedroom. You may also consider using the equipment outdoors, such as in an enclosed patio. Another way to reuse this type of equipment is to pass it down to family members. Kids will love learning to take pictures or videos. This is a great way to get them in touch with the photographer or filmmaker inside and encourage creativity. Of course, the equipment may suffer a little damage, as kids tend to be a little rough. If this is not an option, consider selling your used equipment through classifieds or websites, such as eBay. You may also consider donating the equipment to a community organization, church, or school, as they are likely to need such items for educational purposes. The following are just a few places to consider when deciding to recycle old video and audio equipment.