Did the Holidays Bring a New TV or iPhone? Here's How to Safely Dispose of Old Electronics

Jan 15, 2021 10:10 AM ET
Blog

We typically see an influx in e-waste at our facilities in early January. This increase is a result of holiday wishes granted, including exciting new phones, computers, and tablets. After the gifting season subsides, most are unsure of what to do with their old electronics.

The EPA considers e-waste to be “a subset of used electronics and recognizes the inherent value of these materials that can be reused, refurbished or recycled to minimize the actual waste that might end up in a landfill or improperly disposed of in an unprotected dump site either in the U.S. or abroad.”  
 
Improper disposal of e-waste is quite common and can be extremely dangerous for public health and safety. Hundreds of preventable fires are caused each year by incorrect disposal of battery-powered electronics. Additionally, The Verge reported that 2019 set a record for the amount of e-waste ever generated worldwide: 53.6 million metric tons of discarded phones, computers, appliances, and other gadgets. Unfortunately, only 17 percent of that waste was recycled.  

This problem is only anticipated to worsen, which is why it is more important than ever before to recycle or repurpose old electronics responsibly. Here are four easy options that will ensure old phones, consoles, computers, and TVs stay out of the waste stream: 
 
Electronics recycling options 

  1. Donate: Many local charities will accept working devices. Two national programs include Cell Phones for Soldiers, which provides free airtime minutes to servicemen and women, and the 1Million Project, which connects low-income students to the Internet.  
  2. Mail back recycling: Try Republic Services’ simple e-waste recycling service. It’s as easy as ordering a prepaid box and mailing your phone to Republic Services for secure disposal. 
  3. Drop off at local collection events: Many local Republic Services facilities collect e-waste throughout the year, especially in the spring and fall – enter your address to find local information. You can also search Earth911 or Call2Recycle to find an e-waste drop-off site near you.  
  4. Lithium-ion batteries: While all batteries require special handling and can’t be disposed of or recycled in your curbside containers, lithium-ion batteries can be particularly dangerous when thrown away.   Why? The delicate wiring inside of lithium-ion batteries can easily explode if dropped or smashed, resulting in fires. In fact, there were 343 reported fires at U.S. and Canadian waste and recycling facilities due to battery-powered electronics last year, according to the 2019 Waste & Recycling Facility Fire Annual Report. 

By taking a few simple steps, you can feel even better about your new holiday electronics, knowing that your old ones aren’t harming the environment! 
 
Learn more at RepublicServices.com.