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Recycle your old tech gear

Lisa Schmeiser | April 23, 2013
What to do with your old tech gear when it no longer works? Recycle it. We show you how and where to be responsible with outdated stuff.

A local recycler-as-fundraiser program typically takes the kinds of small electronics found around the house, but won't take televisions or other appliances.

A third option that's cropping up across the U.S. is the electronics recycling fundraiser. You'll often see schools or civic groups doing these, where a coordinating group, such as a middle-school orchestra's booster club, charges a nominal fee of $25 or so for all the electronics you care to drop off. The advantage here is that you don't have to go chasing all over the place to drop off your stuff. The disadvantage is that Lincoln Middle School's first clarinet chair may do a great job hustling your old printer cartridges out of your car trunk, but she probably can't tell you whether there's a decent data-management policy in place at the recycling endpoint.

Ship it away. The Web is chockablock with sites that promise to pay you cash money for your old junk. Some manufacturers and retailers have gotten in on the game too. Apple, for example--working in conjunction with PowerOn Services--promises a gift card with whatever cash value your old computers, iPhones, or iPads had. (And if your gear doesn't qualify, it'll recycle them for you at no charge.)

Apple will take all sorts of your old gear.

Other tech vendors provide free shipping and hassle-free recycling: Dell's mailback program provides a prepaid mailing label and a pickup by FedEx to whisk away your old PCs. Motorola will foot the bill if you want to send it any brand of mobile phone, tablet, or accessory and it'll recycle its branded cordless phones, modems, and routers for free.

Other major brands that will provide prepaid mailing labels to recycle their old products include BlackBerry, Hewlett-Packard, Lenovo, and Verizon Wireless.

If you just want to toss everything in one giant box and never think of it again, check out the services GreenDisk offers. It'll recycle almost anything (but draws the line at electric toothbrushes). Note that this convenience does not come free--getting rid of your Jurassic monitor starts at $35.

Donate it. If your older gear is still in working order, you may want to think about giving it away instead of sending it on its way to its next life. But before you make plans to gift your local preschool with a Performa 6115, stop and consider whether your donation is going to be useful to any given organization. Phones, computers, and printers that don't work aren't going to magically fire up once they've been tossed in the Goodwill bin; if you can recycle them on your own, do it and save the folks at the nonprofits the effort.

 

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