Tips for proper disposal of old tech

PHOENIX — Q: Where can I take my old electronics for proper recycling?

A:  This time of year, many of us are asking this question after getting new electronics during the holiday season.

The vast majority of U.S. households include some form of electronics in their gift-giving every year, so odds are you have older electronics sitting in a closet or garage. Sadly, far too few consumers think like you, so e-waste  — electronic waste — is the fastest-growing municipal waste issue according to the EPA.

E-waste represents two percent of our trash, but accounts for 70 percent of overall toxic waste in our landfills, and it’s growing as our appetite for gadgets grows. (The average U.S. household has 24 electronic devices.)

Most statistics suggest that we only recycle 15 to 25 percent of our e-waste, so we could all do a better job of keeping the lead, arsenic, cadmium, mercury and many other toxins out of our landfills and groundwater.

I like to encourage people to think about repurposing electronics before recycling them. Just because the device is no longer good enough for you doesn’t mean that it won’t be useful for others.

Start with your local schools, churches and charities, especially if you have older cellphones, computers, printers and tablets that can still be used.

The National Cristina Foundation  is a great resource for individuals and businesses that have technology that they think can still be helpful to other people.

The foundation focuses on service organizations targeting people with disabilities, students at risk and economically disadvantaged populations through their nonprofit locator tool.

You can also make it available to others in your community by using resources such as Freecycle, which is the virtual equivalent of putting it out on the sidewalk with a sign that reads “free for the taking.”

If you have a cellphone or smartphone that still works, you may be able to trade it in or recycle it with your current wireless carrier.

There are also a whole host of companies such as  and that offer to buy your older phones, tablets and computers through online pricing forms.

You can also check with your municipality’s website to see whether they have a structured e-waste recycling process, dropoff locations or annual events.

The EPA has also put together a list of national companies that offer recycling programs for PCs, televisions and mobile devices.

These companies offer everything from dropoff locations to recycling events and mail-in options.

And here’s another list of recycling options for things such as batteries, printer ink cartridges and computers.

Before you donate or recycle your computers, make sure you take steps to securely wipe your personal data from the hard drives. Your cellphones and smartphones are also loaded with lots of personal information, so make sure you perform a factory reset before getting rid of it.

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