How to Responsibly Handle Electronics Disposal and Recycling

responsible electronics disposal recycling hardware systems

What would you say if we offered you a used tablet or other mobile device for free? You might say yes. You may even take two.

But what if we offered you 55 million metric tonnes of these electronic devices? Believe it or not, this isn't a hypothetical. This is the real-life problem of electronics disposal.

In fact, according to recent estimates by the UN, 55 million metric tonnes is the precise amount of e-waste the world will generate this year. Figuring out what to do with this much e-waste is the very real predicament we find ourselves in right now.

So what we're really saying to you here is, "Thank you!" For by reading this article, you're already making a positive difference in reducing e-waste.

In the following guide, you'll learn the responsible ways to dispose of or recycle old electronics. Just follow these tips, share them with your colleagues, and save the planet.

Sell It!

Not only is recycling e-waste the right thing to do, but you may even get paid for it! You probably never thought to sell your trash before. But, in fact, there's a large variety of ways you're electronic trash can earn you cash.

Here are some ways you can find buyers for your e-waste instead of contributing it to a landfill.

Check Retail Stores

A lot of electronics/department stores offer buy-back programs for used electronics. They may offer cash or store credit to take these items off your hands.

Best Buy and Staples, for example, accept a wide variety of electronics for trade-in or money. We're not just talking about phones and tablets, either. Many stores accept office equipment like printers and fax machines as well.

Check Online

Next, there are many online companies that specialize in refurbishing and reselling used electronics. They'll take your used tablets, smartphones, and other devices and pay you electronically.

Two very reputable examples of this are Gazelle and NextWorth. Amazon has a trade-in service for electronics as well.

There are online buyers for business electronics as well, like used POS systems. Sell used systems at POSRG or other such companies.

To get a quote, go one of these websites and input the required details about your device. If you accept their quote, they'll send you a prepaid shipping label so you can send it in.

Then, you collect your fee! They'll usually pay via PayPal, but sometimes in a check or gift card instead.

Cell Phone / Tech Companies

Furthermore, there are tons of cell service and tech companies that offer buyback programs for your electronic junk.

Apple will recycle all of your old devices regardless of make, model, or condition. Certain eligible items will earn you store credit up to $1,000.

Sprint recycles mobile phones from any carrier. Certain items can earn you credit up to $300.

Other than these, you can always call tech companies and refurbishers in your area to see what buy-back programs they have to offer.

eBay / Craigslist

If you've not had much luck with these other methods, you can always list the item online and sell it yourself. In fact, you may want to try this first. It's easier than you might think and you're likely to get a better deal than you would with a trade-in.


If you live in or around a decently populated area, you might want to try Craigslist first. This way, you won't lose money on shipping and fees as you would selling on eBay.

But there are drawbacks. First and foremost, it's far less safe.

A lot of muggers and other criminals browse Craigslist to literally "shop" for victims. The anonymous, unmonitored deals on the site make Craigslisters pretty easy targets. All they have to do is pose as a buyer, meet you in an abandoned parking lot, then take your item and your money.

The second drawback is the limited reach of local selling. Your local area may not be very populated, or at least not populated by people who buy used junk off Craigslist. If the locals aren't interested, your item may never sell.


As stated, the main drawback to eBay selling is the money lost to shipping and seller fees. And, if the item being sold is heavy, like a desktop computer, shipping costs can be quite significant.

Other than that, eBay is better than Craigslist in every way. For one thing, you're almost guaranteed to get your electronics sold, even the broken ones.

Refurbishers buy broken things off eBay all the time. Even the unfixable items can be stripped for parts.

Furthermore, it's 100% safe. All transactions are monitored and managed by eBay and both buyers and sellers are protected against cheaters.

Plus, it's all done remotely. There are no late-night encounters with shady strangers involved.

The only challenge is selling at a price greater than shipping and fees. For broken, busted, old junk, it's best to sell it all in one big lot marked "as-is." Shipping everything together saves on postage.

Donate It!

Alas, sometimes you won't profit off your used electronics no matter how hard you try. If you've exhausted all profitable disposal methods (or you're getting exhausted just thinking about them) there are easier options to try. And yes, they're still free.

First, if you have any electronics still in good, working condition, donate them. Schools, impoverished communities, and others in need are begging for your gently used electronics.

Dell Reconnect, World Computer Exchange, Goodwill, Cell Phones For Soldiers—these are only a drop in the bucket. There are literally thousands of charities that would love to take these electronics donations off your hands.

Recycle It!

Likewise, there are thousands of certified recyclers to choose from as well, far too many to list them all here. Besides, the EPA has already done that for us on their site.

Pretty much any electronics manufacturer has a free recycling program, as well they should. After all, they're the ones most responsible for generating the e-waste.

Even things like vacuum cleaners and old video game systems can be disposed of this way. When in doubt, check with the manufacturer.

Responsible Electronics Disposal And Recycling

Proper electronics disposal is everyone's responsibility. And while doing the right thing is its own reward, you might get something extra back as well.

Use these tips to dispose of electronics responsibly. 

Want more tips on recycling tech for money? Browse a few more of our blog posts in our Tech section! 

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