Take Safety Home: Household Electronics Disposal

If you’re like most people, you probably have a box full of old household electronics and have no idea what to do with them. Should you donate or recycle? Do you know what you need to do before you donate or recycle your personal electronics?

Donating used (but still operating) electronics for reuse extends the lives of valuable products and keeps them out of the waste stream for a longer period of time. By donating your used household electronics, you allow schools, nonprofit organizations, and lower-income families to obtain equipment that they otherwise could not afford.

However, before donating your computer or other electronics, make sure the equipment is reusable. A donation organization may have limited or in many cases no resources to diagnose and repair hardware. A functional, working system—especially with monitor, wiring, and software licenses—is a lot more useful and requires less upgrading than a nonworking, incomplete computer. Also, be sure to delete all personal information.

If donating your electronics is not an option, then recycle them. Manufacturers and retailers offer several options to recycle electronics. Electronics recyclers provide comprehensive recycling operations. Some of the commodities that can be extracted from electronic equipment — in particular, steel, aluminum, gold, silver, titanium, copper, nickel, plastic, and glass — are used as valuable raw material in the manufacture of new products. Remember, donating or recycling your used household electronics is a win-win situation. You dispose of your unwanted items and in doing so, you’re protecting the environment and providing help to those in need!

On a similar and important note, PA residents, as of January 24, 2013, are no longer allowed to throw away electronic devices with other municipal waste. They must take them to an electronics recycling center, leave them for curbside pickup if the community offers an electronics collection program, or use an approved mail-back or buy-back program.

Helpful Links for Household Electronics Disposal:

  • EPA’s eCycling Page – Some great information and resources for dealing with electronic waste.
  • Best Buy’s Electronic Recycling Program
  • Staples Easy on the Planet Electronics Recycling Program
  • Where You Live eCycling – Find local resources where you can recycle your household electronics.
  • PA DEP Covered Device Recycling Act – A fact sheet on the PA rule regarding recycling of household electronics.

This information is provided as a service to you by Compliance Consultants, Inc.