Trash Talk 

How to Dispose of Electronics Properly

How to Dispose of Electronics Properly

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Cleaning out your home or garage brings many different waste disposal challenges. Your home is full of hazardous materials at any given time. These can range from paint to cleaning chemicals. These are items we use frequently and don’t think of as hazardous. Electronics also fall into this category.

Some of the most common items in a home are electronic devices. We live in a digital age where electricity powers so any aspects our lives. Due to this, old electronic devices can pile up in your junk.

The problem with all electronics comes with their disposal. You can’t just throw your old phones, TVs, or laptops in your residential trash. You also can’t throw them in your dumpster when doing a home project like decluttering.

Since you can’t just toss your old devices into the trash or your dumpster rental, what can you do with them? It’s not as hard as it may seem and responsible disposal keeps our planet clean.

Why are Electronic Devices Hazardous?

Cody Inside Sales Representative Discount Dumpster Rental

"Unfortunately, once electronics are thrown into a dumpster there is no good way to sort them out at the landfill. The landfill is large pile of dirt and trash that is bulldozed and driven over all day long by large equipment. There is a risk of electronics getting broken up and mixed into the trash piles, exposing the harmful materials inside."

- Cody Herbert, Discount Dumpster Operations Manager

Most electronic devices are made of certain materials that will not break down properly in a landfill. Electronic devices are not biodegradable. Therefore, they will accumulate and take up space over time.

Aside from being non-biodegradable, electronic components are often toxic to the environment and natural resources. Electronics can leak toxic substances such as:

  • Lead
  • Mercury
  • Arsenic
  • Beryllium

These materials can be lethal to humans and animals in large amounts. Now imagine a bunch of old devices full of mercury getting dumped in your local landfill which just so happens to be near the river. This could lead to local environmental catastrophe that could take years to clean up.

Are Batteries Considered Electronics?

Batteries are not technically electronic devices. Electronics are categorized as any device powered by batteries or a cord. However, batteries are categorized in the umbrella term of “e-waste” (electronic waste). E-waste includes both batteries and electronic devices.

Some rechargeable batteries may be fine for disposal. However, its best to ask your trash provider or dumpster rental company first before disposal.

Just like with electronics, batteries cannot be thrown in your local trash or your dumpster rental. Many types of batteries contain similar toxic materials found in electronic devices. Batteries also will leak battery acid over time, which adds an extra environmental hazard.

You’re probably wondering how exactly to get rid of old electronics or batteries. If they can’t go in your trash or in a dumpster, where can they go?

There are a few options you can choose from, some being more practical than others.

How to Dispose of Electronics

There are a few options for proper electronics disposal. However, the feasibility of a given option depends upon your specific circumstances and the area where you live.

The best choice for you depends on your unique situation. Regardless, any option you choose helps reduce excess e-waste in the world.

An infographic detailing how to dispose of electronics properly
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1. Recycle Electronics

For most people, recycling electronics is usually the most practical option. Recycling tends to be more practical as all you need to do is drive to a facility and drop off your materials. There are many localities in the United States that have recycling centers that accept electronics.

Organizations such as Earth911 have a wide database of recycling centers for electronic devices. All you need to do is enter your zip code and enter the type of electronics you are disposing of.

The only aspect to recycling centers that could be an issue is specialization. Not all electronic devices are created equally. Therefore, certain items can only be disposed of at certain recycling location.

For simplicity and convenience, electronics recycling is one of the best options available.

2. Donate Working Electronics

Donating unwanted electronics is also a viable option. You could always give your old electronics to a friend, neighbor, or family member.

There are also donation originations and events that could be active in your area. Dell, for example, partners with Goodwill to form Dell Reconnect. This service is available at many Goodwill locations that will accept any device that connects to a computer.

The World Computer Exchange also accepts computers for repurposing. The organization provides much of the donated computers and devices to people in developing countries.

3. Return to Electronics Manufacturers

Many electronics manufacturers have take-back programs for their devices. Companies like Dell and HP will accept returns for working and non-working devices.

The EPA website lets your search for products by company so you can find their respective recycling programs. Just make sure you're bringing the right device to the right manufacturer.

4. Repair Your Electronics

Repairing your electronic devices is also an option you can consider. If you're technically savvy, you can repair the devices yourself.

There are also many services out there that can repair electronic devices for you. However, some companies do not like unauthorized repairers working on their tech. You may have to seek out a specific repairer for specific devices.

There are organizations like ifixit.com that help consumers learn how to fix their devices. They're unfortunately often targeted by tech companies for their work, claiming it violates copyright law.

Word of Caution on Electronics Disposal

Aside from the environmental impacts of improper computer or cell phone disposal, there are personal security risks. All devices with a hard drive that contain sensitive personal information should be completely wiped before disposal.

The Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) always advises to delete your files from your devices and wipe your hard drives clean.

Before getting rid of your electronic devices, delete files and other sensitive information from devices such as:

  • Computers
  • Cell phones
  • Digital cameras
  • Tablets
  • USB drives

If your files are not deleted from your devices, this could give any stranger access to your personal information. This can include your bank account, address, and more.

Need a Dumpster for a Large Cleanout?

Are you clearing out your home or commercial office? Discount Dumpster is the highest rated service nationwide for trash and junk removal.

However, just remember that your excess electronics cannot go in your dumpster rental. Please make sure you choose a proper disposal method. We can also help direct you to recycling services that take electronics!

Call to Get Started on Your Cleanout Project - (888) 316-7010

About Julian Drury

Julian Drury is a Content Specialist with Discount Dumpster, with a good array of knowledge on waste management topics. He has been writing since he was 10, and makes it his mission to present engaging and informational content for all readers who need waste management solutions.

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