Electronic recycles: Electronics: E-Cycle Washington – Washington State Department of Ecology

How to Recycle Old Electronics

We love our devices—our TVs, laptops, tablets, and perhaps most of all, our mobile phones, those pocket-sized miracles of computing power. In fact, Gartner, a tech research company, estimates that more than 1.5 billion cell phones will ship in 2021. That’s around 1 for every 5 people alive.

But unless they’re traded in for a new device, each of those gadgets eventually reaches the end of its useful life and becomes electronic waste. And that’s a problem. A United Nations study reported that 53.6 million tons of e-waste was discarded in 2019, and only 17.4 percent of it was disposed of properly.

On Earth Day (April 22)—and every other day—consumers can do something to reduce their e-waste footprint, though. Many of the materials used in making these products can be recovered and reused, including plastics, glass, metal, and aluminum. Apple, for example, says its 13-inch MacBook Air with Retina display contains over 40 percent recycled content (PDF).

But electronics can also contain toxic substances such as lead, mercury, and cadmium, which must be disposed of carefully. So far, 25 states have passed laws requiring people to recycle old electronics. But no matter where you live, there are safe methods for disposal.

First, make sure to completely erase all personal information. It usually isn’t as simple as deleting files. Here’s how to get your personal data off a laptop, for example. Once that’s done, here are your options.

Plenty of nonprofit organizations and local communities offer options to help you recycle old electronics. One group, Call2Recycle, offers drop-off locations for rechargeable batteries and cell phones all over the U.S. To find a location, just enter your ZIP code at Call2Recycle.org.

Access may be limited due to concerns about COVID-19, so before leaving home, be sure to contact the drop-off location to confirm it’s open and accepting recyclables.

You can also look for local options by entering your ZIP code and the product you want to recycle at the Computer Technology Association’s Recycle Locator or Earth911’s extensive recycling database. Earth911 offers assistance by phone at 800-CLEANUP, too.

For more options, or to learn how e-waste gets recycled, consult Sustainable Electronics Recycling International, which lists facilities certified for electronic recycling.

If your used gadget still works—or, in many cases, even if it doesn’t—there’s probably a charity or nonprofit out there that would be happy to take it off your hands. You can start by checking local organizations for older people and recreation centers. Make sure to get a receipt so that you can deduct your donation on next year’s tax return. Here are a few other programs that can help you get your old devices to people who need them.

  • Dell Reconnect is a partnership with Goodwill that accepts any brand of computer as well as “just about anything that can be connected to a computer,” according to the website. You can drop off used devices at participating Goodwill locations around the country.
  • The World Computer Exchange is on a mission to diminish the digital divide in developing countries and to promote the reuse of and proper recycling of electronics. It provides used computers, peripherals, and many other types of gadgets to communities around the world.
  • eBay for Charity lets you sell your used devices (or anything else, actually) and donate part or all of the proceeds to a charity of your choosing.

Many electronics manufacturers and retailers offer robust recycling programs. A chart at the Environmental Protection Agency’s website lets you search programs by product or company. The following are just a few of the many programs that allow consumers to recycle old electronics. Check your brand’s or retailer’s company website for details on its program.

  • Amazon offers gift cards for just about any kind of electronics device, as well as music CDs and video games. Some items may be eligible for limited time, promotional credit toward a new qualifying Amazon device.
  • Apple’s GiveBack program offers up to $1,530 in gift cards or in-store credit for qualifying products. The company will also accept and recycle any product that doesn’t qualify.
  • Best Buy offers recycling options for a wide range of electronics, no matter where you bought them.
  • Office Depot and Staples offer rewards program members store credit of $2 per printer cartridge (with some restrictions) for up to 10 or 20 cartridges per month, respectively. Most printer manufacturers, including HP, Epson, and Canon, also have their own recycling programs.
  • Sprint’s Buyback program offers account credits for mobile phones from any carrier. For specific details on other phone programs, check the manufacturer’s website.

Tell us in the comments section below.

We love our planet, right? Then let’s stop trashing it. On the “Consumer 101” TV show, Consumer Reports reveals the five items you should always recycle rather than toss into the trash bin.

Electronics recyclers from King County’s Take it Back Network

Electronics recyclers from King County’s Take it Back Network – King County
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Take it Back Network recyclers accept a variety of electronic equipment such as computers, monitors, printers, TVs, cell phones, PDAs, fax machines, audio video and camera equipment (including DVD and VCR players), household electronics and rechargeable batteries.

Residents can recycle their computers, monitors, laptops and TVs for FREE at authorized E-Cycle Washington collection sites. Visit www.ecyclewashington.org external link to find a collection site near you. Many of the Take it Back Network members are participating in E-Cycle Washington and will accept computers, monitors, laptops and TVs for free. They will also continue to accept electronic products not included in the E-Cycle Washington program for a fee – such as printers, mice, keyboards, fax machines, scanners, batteries, etc.


 logo designates authorized E-Cycle Washington collectors.

Download the electronics recycling brochureDownload PDF 300 K


Call first

Be sure to read the vendor descriptions and call first to verify that they will accept your equipment. Some vendors accept items by appointment only.

Recycling fees

Most Take it Back organizations charge a fee to cover the cost of labor to take apart the equipment and to transport the materials to a processing facility. Read the detailed description of their services and the fees by clicking on the name of the vendor. The fees change frequently so call first to verify the cost of the recycling service.

Environmentally sound recycling

The organizations listed in the local Take it Back Network have agreed to recycle the materials in an environmentally sound manner, either domestically, within nations that belong to the European Union (EU) or within countries that are members of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) external link . Learn more about the membership requirements to join the Take it Back Network.

Other recycling companies

For a list of electronics recyclers that are not in the Take it Back Network, go to the What Do I Do With…? website and select “Electronic Equipment” from the drop-down menu.

Note that the businesses and organizations that are not Take it Back Network members have not agreed to the Take it Back Network membership requirements and may export their equipment to countries that have less stringent environmental regulations. Before you pay a fee to have your materials processed, be sure to ask the recycler for documentation about where and how the materials are recycled to ensure the materials are being handled properly.

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  • Last Updated January 29, 2018    
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Why only 10-20 percent of e-waste is recycled

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900 02 Murmansk region

11/30/2022 13:03


Aleksey Mikhailov (Murmansk Region)

By the end of 2022, the situation on the electronic equipment recycling market in Russia has changed significantly: citizens are trying to disassemble broken devices and sell electronic components removed from them. According to the association “SKO Electronics – Recycling”, over the past six months, about 20 percent of devices began to come for recycling already without electronic boards. This suggests that the population has become more active in selling faulty electronics through ads, and some enterprises are reusing electronic components due to a shortage of foreign components. At the same time, the sanctions significantly squeezed this market – most of the electronic components assembled by buyers were sold for processing to Europe and China. In this situation, there was an urgent need to expand the processing of end-of-life electronics in Russia.

Waste electronic and electrical equipment (WEEE) is the fastest growing share of municipal solid waste. According to the regional monitoring of e-waste for 2021, prepared by experts from the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR), the amount of e-waste generated in Russia and the CIS increased from 1.7 million tons (about six kilograms per capita) in 2010 to 2. 5 million tons (8.7 kilograms per capita) in 2019. Only 10-20 percent of this volume is recycled, the rest goes to landfills, causing great harm to the environment. Although WEEE makes up only five to seven percent of all MSW, it accounts for 70 percent of all toxic substances in municipal solid waste. Up to 70 percent of all e-waste is generated by the public.

At least 60-70 percent of the electronic scrap collection business remains shady, says Alexandra Dyatkova, marketing director for the Uberi ecotaxi. Most of this waste is handed over to “gray” collectors, who take faulty equipment somewhere to garages or industrial zones, where the most valuable components are manually extracted from it. Not a single region has established a centralized collection of WEEE, this is done only by individual enterprises, many of which operate illegally. In particular, in the Republic of Komi, the volumes of electronic waste are insufficient to create a centralized system for their processing and disposal, said Alexandras Medvedevas, chairman of the committee of the Republican Chamber of Commerce and Industry on ecology, environmental management and the treatment of solid municipal and industrial waste. The same situation is in the Murmansk region.

– We do not separate them from the incoming volume of waste, – says Vitaly Izmailov, deputy director of the Murmansk branch of Citimatic JSC, which is a municipal waste management operator. – What comes to us goes like scrap metal. Ideally, enterprises should hand over non-ferrous metals, microcircuits and other similar waste to special institutions, which then should deal with their disposal. But in reality, this work is not established. I myself have come across this: at one time I worked as a computer science teacher at school, and recycling failed computers has always been a huge problem. Electronic scrap is accepted only by small private traders who disassemble it for spare parts.

The overwhelming majority of the population in the regions has not yet realized that it is impossible to dispose of hazardous waste in this way, notes Alexandra Dyatkova. As a rule, such “collectors” do not have a license for such activities. In addition, they do not care at all about protecting nature from pollution. Containers with freon from refrigerators, for example, at best end up on a container site for a recycler for the treatment of MSW, and at worst – to illegal dumps. In contrast, responsible companies take waste to recycling plants, where there is special equipment that allows you to pump out hazardous liquids, recycle plastic, wires, printed circuit boards, metal boxes, and so on. They work with a number of plants that allow them to recycle and recycle an average of 88 percent of the waste they receive.

– Before handing over e-waste to private collectors, you need to ask where they will then be sent, – adds the expert. – Only such handling of electronic waste can be called responsible.

Establishment of WEEE processing facilities is an extremely capital-intensive process, Ecopolis Corporation notes. Today, at the federal level, there are no support measures for e-waste processors. The development and launch of federal, regional and municipal programs for the centralized collection of WEEE from the population will help change the situation. It is also necessary to subsidize interest rates on investment loans for industry companies, to compensate for part of the costs of purchasing equipment and logistics costs associated with the transportation of waste from the place of collection and accumulation to recycling enterprises.

Before handing over e-waste to private collectors, you need to ask where they will be sent

Another problem that needs to be addressed at the state level is that Russian manufacturers are not interested in using secondary resources. For processors, this reduces the market for their products. Although recycled materials are cheaper than primary ones, industrialists need research and technology changes to switch to recycled materials. This can divert a significant part of the resource of small enterprises, so here you can not do without the economic support of the state. And big business needs a clear signal from the authorities that the use of recycled materials is one of the priorities.

Rossiyskaya gazeta – Economics of the North-West: №269(8917)


Murmanskaya OblastRepublic of KomiIn the regions

volumes of inorganic waste in all over the world (masks, gloves, disposable equipment, devices, etc.). However, the development of the Internet of Things, high-speed wireless data transmission and artificial intelligence makes it possible to intensify the collection, sorting and recycling of waste. Among such methods are equipping garbage containers with fill sensors and prompt transmission of this information to public utilities and operating companies; equipping public places with bins and containers that automatically sort waste themselves; AI platforms that analyze in real time the routes for the removal of various types of garbage and places for its processing in order to optimize these routes, etc.

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Kommersant / Ivan Vodopyanov
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Gloves, cigarette butts and medical mask in bin

Kommersant / Alexander Miridonov
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Kommersant / Ivan Vodopyanov
/ buy photo

Gloves, cigarette butts and medical mask in the urn

Kommersant / Alexander Miridonov
/ buy photo

Unnecessary essentials

COVID-19 pandemicsignificantly exacerbated the problem of accumulation of solid inorganic waste, including tens of thousands of tons of plastic waste. According to WHO, from March 2020 to November 2021 alone, 87 thousand tons of personal protective equipment (masks, gloves, shoe covers, gowns, etc.) were used, the lion’s share of which went to trash cans. In addition, over the same period, 140 million covid tests were used, which WHO estimates an additional 2.6 thousand tons of plastic waste, about 8 billion doses of vaccines were delivered, which resulted in about 143 tons of waste in the form of used packages, syringes , needles, plastic containers for transportation and storage, etc. Even then, scientists began to offer new methods of dealing with increased volumes of garbage through the use of biodegradable plastics, technologies for simpler and cheaper plastic processing, etc.

Recently, researchers are increasingly talking about another technological way to deal with garbage – with the help of the rapidly developing Internet of Things (Internet of Things, IoT). By 2030, the global demand for IoT solutions will be more than $620 billion, an increase of almost 3. 5 times in ten years. It is not surprising that more and more startups have begun to appear that use IoT developments in tracking, sorting and processing waste, which, according to experts, has already led to the actual emergence of a new industry – Internet of Waste

Experts consider timely detection of accumulated garbage and optimization of routes for its removal one of the most important ways to use the “internet of garbage”. Some companies, such as Turkish Evreka, Danish Waste Hero or Norwegian Sensorita, are already using such technologies in cities in more than 40 countries in Europe, Asia and North America.

Waste bins with special sensors

Photo: Art-robotics

Waste containers with special sensors

Photo: Art-robotics

  • garbage collection .
  • In this way, the garbage truck goes to where the containers are already full, and does not waste time and fuel on a detour of the territory along the same standard route, where some containers may still be half empty.
  • The sensors fitted to the waste bins provide information about the location of the bin, temperature rise in the event of a fire, and are shock, shock, water and heat resistant.

Sort, remove, recycle

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E-waste has increased significantly in recent years

Altaf Qadri / AP

Geert Vanden Wijngaert / AP

Geert Vanden Wijngaert / AP

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E-waste has increased significantly in recent years

Altaf Qadri / AP

Geert Vanden Wijngaert / AP

Geert Vanden Wijngaert / AP

In addition to the growth in plastic waste, in recent years, the volume of “electronic waste” has increased significantly – mobile phones, smartphones, tablets, laptops, wearable gadgets and other mobile devices, which many people throw away not only after they are out of service, but also after minor breakdowns or even serviceable – after the release of a newer model. By some estimates, more than 5 billion mobile phones ended up in the trash in 2022 alone. According to the research company Uswitch, in 2022 Norway produced the most electronic waste in the world – on average, each inhabitant of this country threw out 26 kg of this or that electronics. In second place with 23.9 kg of electronic waste per capita – UK , in third with 23.4 kg – Switzerland . In total, the top 10 countries with the largest volume of discarded electronics include eight European countries (Norway, Great Britain, Switzerland, Denmark, the Netherlands, Iceland, France, Belgium), as well as Australia (5th place), USA (8th place) and Japan (shared 10th with Belgium).

Electronic devices are much more difficult to recycle than many other types of waste.

In addition, the batteries of such devices may decompose and contaminate soil and water with toxic substances. The Internet of Things makes it easier to sort and recycle electronic waste, including for the recovery and reuse of non-ferrous metals, semiconductors, batteries, etc. There are special applications that allow you to track both the location of the nearest recycling of specific electronic devices and send data to a specialized company that there is electronic waste in one place or another. Many manufacturers of electronic devices themselves urge their users to take a responsible attitude to the disposal of gadgets and enter into partnership agreements with specialized companies where you can apply for the removal of the device via the Internet. Some manufacturers equip their devices with a battery failure warning function and ask the user for permission to promptly transfer this information to a partner company that recycles or recycles this model of electronic device.

Another way to simplify and speed up the recycling of conventional solid waste is smart bins and containers , which independently sort waste. Such containers are especially relevant in public places, where packaging from goods and drinks mainly accumulates.

Unlike conventional bins with multiple holes for different types of waste – plastic, glass, paper, metal, food waste – these containers are equipped with only one hole. Therefore, a person will not be able to throw, for example, a paper bag into the plastic waste compartment.

Scanners and sensors analyze the discarded item, after which it is sent to the correct compartment. Containers can also be equipped with fill sensors for each of the compartments, transmitting this information to the appropriate service. In this way, utilities will quickly find out that in this container, for example, the paper compartment is full, but the glass compartment is not yet, which saves time for cleaning the compartment and waste disposal.

According to the Belgian start-up Quppa, in the city of Leuven alone, where the company is based, about 4 million disposable coffee cups are thrown away a year and only 1% of them are completely recycled. The company decided to use the “internet of garbage” to recycle disposable coffee cups and other hot drinks sold in takeaway cafes. In collaboration with local catering companies, it attaches an RFID tag to the cups, which is activated upon sale and then shows the exact location of the discarded cups.