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How to Recycle Your Old Electronics

Have a computer too old to sell? A hopelessly dated phone? Don’t just toss them into the garbage, where they will leach toxic materials into the soil and water. Recycle them.


  • Step 1: Trade it in If you’re upgrading to a new version of your current computer, check with the manufacturer about trading in the old one. Dell, Hewlett-Packard, Toshiba, and Apple all offer 'take-back' programs.
  • TIP: Before getting rid of your computer, make sure to use a software disk-wiping utility to completely destroy any sensitive information on your hard drive.
  • Step 2: Donate it Donate your old computer, printer, and software to charity. Some options are The National Christina Foundation, Share the Technology, TechSoup, Students Recycling Used Technology, and Anne Bubnic’s PEP Directory.
  • TIP: If you want to take a tax write-off, be sure to get a receipt from the organization that takes your computer.
  • Step 3: Recycle Find recycling centers for everything from laptops to MP3 players through the Electronic Industries Alliance and/or the National Recycling Coalition.
  • TIP: Some major office-supply chains now accept all kinds of used electronics for recycling, even if they were not purchased there.
  • Step 4: Donate your cell phone After terminating your service, deleting your contacts, and removing your cell phone’s SIM card (if there is one), donate it, the battery, and the charger to one of the many national and local charities that supply phones to the needy in case of a 911 emergency.
  • FACT: Only 27% of Americans recycle their old electronics.

You Will Need

  • Time to research recycling options
  • A delivery method

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