Like any other product, technology devices have a limited lifespan. That new smartphone you recently bought will eventually become out of date or simply stop working and need replacement. The same is true for tablets, smartwatches, computer monitors, smart thermostats, laptops, smart TVs, gaming consoles and any other piece of technology. Even large-ticket items like AC/heating systems and major appliances—which are becoming more sophisticated and more connected every year—will eventually need replaced and disposed of.
Maybe you have a piece of old technology right now you no longer use and are wondering what to do with it. Whatever the device in question, recycling old tech hardware is key—and that’s not just because of the positive environmental impact. With some products—lithium-ion batteries and TVs, for instance—disposal in regular public trash has the potential not only for severe environmental damage, but also to cause legal trouble for anyone caught throwing such products away.
Recycling Old Tech Hardware: The Environmental Factor
Nearly every modern rechargeable device (including electric cars) runs on the aforementioned lithium-ion batteries. These marvels of modern energy storage have opened a world of convenience and technology previous generations could only dream of. However, they also contain toxic, flammable chemicals and are a serious fire risk if haphazardly thrown out. Moreover, desktop computers, handhelds and appliances can also contain hazardous chemicals that can leak into groundwater and cause other environmental damage if left to breakdown and degrade in a landfill.
To help avoid both the environmental and potential legal consequences of the improper disposal of old electronics, we’ve compiled this list of options for recycling old tech hardware.
Manufacturer-Based Recycling of Old Tech Hardware
Old electronics can be recycled in a number of ways. Many people may not realize, for instance, that many device manufacturers offer in-house programs for recycling old tech hardware. These programs allow consumers to send in or drop off devices made by that manufacturer free of charge. If you’ve got an old TV or other device needing recycled, here are some links to manufacturer recycling pages:
- Craig Electronics
- Curtis International (maker of RCA, Sylvania, Proscan branded products and others)
- Element Electronics
- LG Electronics
- Sony Electronics
In addition to these, a number of device manufacturers contract with MRM E-Cycling Corporation to manage programs for recycling old tech hardware from their individual brands:
- Insignia by Best Buy
If you don’t see the manufacturer of your old device listed, we suggest a Google search for additional information. Additionally, in Texas, TV and computer equipment manufacturers are required by law to offer ways for consumers to recycle old electronic devices. To learn more, visit one of the following sites:
- The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality
- State of Texas Alliance for Recycling
- Texas Recycles Computers Program
- Texas Recycles TV Program
- Texas Electronics Recycling Program
You can also try visiting the local-government or Chamber of Commerce webpage of the city or municipality where you live in South Central Texas. Whether you’re in Cuero, Gonzales, La Vernia, Schertz, Seguin or some other part of the Guadalupe Valley and surrounding areas, there are resources available to help you responsibly dispose of old batteries and electronic devices
Retailers Recycling Old Tech Hardware
Another very good option for recycling old tech hardware is through direct drop-off and mail-in programs available through retailers like Best Buy, Staples, Office Depot, Target and others. Specialized retail outlets like Sprint, Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile and others offer on-site and mail-in recycling options for products like those they sell (e.g., cellphones, tablets, etc.). All the above national retailers can be found in and around South Central Texas and the Guadalupe Valley, including in Cuero, Gonzales, Schertz, Seguin and other areas in and around GVEC’s service territory.
Best Buy will accept all kinds of devices for recycling, including rechargeable batteries and even major appliances. Tech firms like Apple, Microsoft, Amazon, Google and others offer various incentives and programs that encourage consumers to recycle old electronic devices, too. Policies vary from retailer to retailer, of course; if you have questions about recycling options for a specific retailer, try searching online or, if they operate brick and mortar locations, visit the retailer in person.
Call2Recycle is a nationwide nonprofit specializing in battery recycling of all kinds. The company, which also accepts old cellphones and smartphones for recycling, works through an affiliate model, with “drop-off sites” set up at a range of organization types: retailers, municipalities, hospitals, military bases, businesses and government agencies. In South Central Texas, there are around 50 Call2Recycle drop-off sites. Anyone can apply through Call2Recycle’s website to host a drop-site, and the company also offers an option for consumers to mail old products in for recycling.
ecoATM operates a nationwide network of standalone recycling kiosks. Users deposit old devices into the kiosk and instantly receive cash. In South Central Texas, you can find ecoATMs located at many Walmarts and HEBs.
Give-Back Recycling of Old Tech Hardware
The old saying “one person’s throw-away [device], is another person’s treasure,” very much applies when it comes to recycling old tech hardware. That old phone, tablet or gaming console you no longer need might mean the world to someone who doesn’t have such conveniences. That’s where organizations like Goodwill come into play. Goodwill will accept your old device—no matter its condition—and refurbish it (if necessary), selling it at an affordable price to others who might benefit greatly from it.
The Salvation Army has a similar mission and will also accept donations of old electronic devices. But you needn’t turn to a nationwide organization to do good at the local level with your old electronics. Local senior groups, youth groups, schools, public libraries, churches, daycares and other such organizations make sure old technology finds its way to people who can get plenty of use from it. You can also donate old devices to friends or family who might need it.
At the international level, the World Computer Exchange will accept your old computer equipment and repurpose it for use by students in developing countries around the globe.
Donating to any charitable organization can be written off as a tax deduction, of course; however, if you’d rather make an outright profit from recycling old tech hardware, consider selling your item on the internet.
Public Events for Recycling Old Tech Hardware
It’s not uncommon for cities to hold annual recycling drives, allowing residents to turn in their old electronic equipment, free of charge, for recycling. To learn more, visit the website of your local city government or try the website of your local chamber of commerce.
Speaking of recycling-themed government websites, the U.S. EPA has a recycling page with a some resources and ideas, too.
Recycling Old Tech Hardware is The Right Thing to Do
The options listed here represent a good starting point. For more information on options near you for recycling old tech hardware, try searching Google or Facebook. No matter how you decide to recycle, though, the important part is to take action and resist the convenience of throwing old devices away with regular trash.
Many of the everyday resources we take for granted—including many of those found in electronic devices—aren’t limitless. Recycling old gadgets not only prevents environmental contamination, but also harvests certain precious materials for reuse in other devices and products. This saves us all money and helps further ease environmental stress by reducing the need to mine these materials. At GVEC, we think reusing old materials isn’t just the environmentally responsible thing to do, but also a financially sound business move. That’s why we’re happy to encourage recycling among the communities we serve.
Whether you live in Cuero, Gonzales, La Vernia, Schertz, Seguin or some other area in or around GVEC’s service territory, you can make a difference both locally and for the wider world in which we all live by recycling old tech hardware in a responsible way.