Electronics Recycling Guide

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Manufacturers are constantly offering new electronics that are more advanced, more feature-rich, and more energy-efficient than the previous generation. So, what do you do with the older devices and equipment as you upgrade? Fortunately, you have a lot of options. Here's how your electronics can be more eco-friendly.

Reduce:

  1. Consider the sources: The electricity which runs your electronics can come from a variety of sources, such as hydroelectric, wind, solar, coal, and nuclear power. Some methods of electricity generation are more eco-friendly than others. By reducing your dependence on fossil fuels and choosing renewable energy options, you can reduce the impact of your electronics on the environment. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) website lets you discover how the electricity in your area is generated. You may also find other options that will allow you to purchase greener power.

  2. Energy-efficient devices: You can reduce your energy consumption in a variety of ways. Pick the equipment that's Energy Star compliant. Energy Star is a program between the EPA and the U.S. Department of Energy to create guidelines for energy consumption of electronics and appliances.

  3. Greener habits: You can also identify wasteful habits and try to reduce or eliminate them. For instance, you can use rechargeable batteries in your electronics instead of disposable ones or back up files on an external hard drive rather than burning multiple backup CDs.

Reuse:

  1. Upgrade: Instead of throwing out that old computer, give it a new life by upgrading some of the components. You can easily upgrade your desktop computer with a new hard drive, video card, processor, and new system memory. Extend the life of your old computers and other electronics by upgrading them with new components that expand memory, increase speed, or add functionality. With a few upgrades, your computer will run like new, and you'll save significantly over buying a whole new system.

  2. Refurbished: Buying refurbished electronics is a great way to keep slightly used equipment from winding up in a landfill. Buying refurbished electronics will reduce overall demand for new electronics and will save you a lot compared to new retail electronics.

Recycle:

  1. New life for old parts: When your electronics can't be reused, they can still often be recycled. Computer recycling programs are available in most cities and include drop-off centers where you can take you old electronics to be processed; search Earth911.com to find one near you. Some electronics contain lead, mercury, and other toxic substances. Be safe and avoid breaking old computer monitors, TVs, and batteries. Most electronics containing toxic materials are labeled as such and can't be legally thrown away; they must be recycled.

  2. Nonprofit donations: Once you're ready to replace your old electronics, why not let someone else reuse them? Many nonprofit organizations rely on donations for their equipment. Search for nonprofit groups in your area that can distribute old electronics to groups in need or who recycle the materials for money to run their programs. When recycling or donating old computers, you don't want to donate any personal information with them. Format hard drives and memory cards to be sure that all your old information can't be accessed by anyone else.

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