Everyone has an old electronic gadget gathering dust.
Like me, you probably have some old electronics lying around the house gathering dust. Maybe a laptop or two, an old television and VCR or DVD players. We can’t (or at least we shouldn’t) just throw these away in the trash. Those gadgets and devices have elements and even gas that can harm the environment.
Yet hundreds of thousands of tons of electronic or ‘E-Waste’ wind up in landfills every year.
I went searching for a place to recycle the items and it was frustrating. Some counties have e-waste recycling centers but most do not. Goodwill and The Salvation Army will accept donations of most electronics provided they’re in good working condition. They also will not accept old tube TVs, projection televisions or CRT computer monitors. Those giant monitors that sat on our desks in the not so distant past.
I found one of the very few retailers that will recycle outdated electronics is Best Buy, and they’ll accept the devices even if they don’t work.
“We take a lot of the recycled electronics in the store, so printers, DVD players, laptops and things like that,” said Best Buy manager Terrance Cole. “Just last year alone we did 170,000,000 pounds.”
The smaller gadgets are accepted and recycled for no charge while televisions and computer monitors will be recycled for $25 if brought into the store. Stores will accept TVs up to 50″ in-store. Best Buy will charge $100 to come to your house and remove the television. If you’re replacing the set with one purchased at Best Buy they’ll charge $15 to haul it off and recycle it.
When it comes to laptops, computers and old hard drives there is a security issue. Hard drives contain a lot of information from the owner, so what does Best Buy do if you’re recycling a hard drive?
Cole said “Typically we obviously try to tell customers to try to get the data off of this as much as you can and wipe it clean. If you can’t, when these things get recycled they get destroyed,” he said. “Usually something gets drilled through them or they just get completely destroyed.”
Consumers should be aware that even non-working hard drives can have data retrieved from them but it is a very expensive procedure and one most people should not worry too much about.
The recycled items are salvaged piece by piece. For example, the glass in computer monitors and televisions is often used, Cole said, to make watch faces. Some of the recycled glass is used for grading material in construction. Plastic from items can also be melted down and used in construction or other industries.
Links to recycling resources:
Goodwill e-recycling http://www.goodwill.org/?s=electronics+recycle
Search for your nearest e-cycling center
E-cycling Central http://www.eiae.org/