How to Dispose of E-Waste

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Dispose of E-Waste
Dispose of E-Waste (Image: ErkinSahin/ sxc.hu)

E-waste is electronic waste. This includes old computers and their components, cell phones, digital cameras and other electronic gadgets. There often are heavy metals and other hazardous components inside the electronics that require special care when disposing of them. They may also have personal information on the hard drives that can be copied, putting your identity at risk. This will require preparing the items for disposal.

Contact the manufacturer of the product and ask if it accepts e-waste for disposal. Apple, for example, will accept your old computer for disposal when you purchase a new one from them. Some manufacturers accept other brands' e-waste for a small fee.

Contact a nearby electronics retailer and inquire into its disposal programs. Best Buy in its stores such small items as cell phone batteries and hosts recycling weekends for e-waste. Other retailers also offer similar programs.

Contact your city, county or private waste management office. Many offer e-waste programs or have e-waste events for customers. Contact private waste companies and recyclers to see if they accept e-waste.

Research donation options. Such charities as Goodwill may accept your old electronics and computers as a donation. Some cell phone companies accept old phones and then donate them.

Prepare your item for disposal. Remove any memory cards from phones or cameras. Reset the memory on the phone following the instructions in your model's manual. Erase everything on your computer's hard drive. Some recyclers will do this for you, but inquire about this service before bringing your e-waste to them.

Tips & Warnings

  • There may be a fee for some e-waste programs, so it is best to get all the details before bringing in your item.

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