Electronics — What
Can't I Throw Away?

Electronics — What Can't I Throw Away?

Being a consumer today is exciting and full of ever-changing options, especially in technology. Brands and manufacturers release new devices often, each one loaded with innovative features and accessories. While this means consumers have no trouble finding the right product for their needs and lifestyle, the downside is that old devices tend to make their way to landfills, where they can release harmful chemicals into the earth.

Fortunately, many electronics can be recycled or given the opportunity for a new life.


What Electronics Are Not Safe to Throw Away? 

Any item containing sulfur, lead, beryllium oxide and mercury is dangerous for you and the environment, especially if they have cracked or shattered. Some of the worst devices you can throw away are fluorescent lighting, LCD screens, computer towers and all types of batteries. Other harmful items, like motors and parts from electronic devices, can contain hazardous chemicals or fuels.

It's also not a good idea to throw away old chargers, cords and cables because they can contain toxic materials as well. A few other items you should never throw away are:  

  •  Printers, scanners and fax machines 
  •  Hot plates
  •  Kitchen appliances
  •  Circuit boards
  •  Heat-based hair styling tools
  •  Some antique furniture and décor
  •  Space heaters
  •  Large freezers
  •  Washers and dryers
  •  Gas-fueled appliances

Which Electronics

Should I Recycle

Cell phones
Rechargeable and disposable batteries
Charging cords
LED lighting
Computer or TV monitors
Video game consoles
Remotes and controllers
Computer towers
Electronic toys
MP3 players
Office equipment
Earbuds and headsets
Small and large appliances
Decorative lighting
E-reader devices
Electronic fitness equipment
AV and recording equipment

Which Electronics Should I Recycle?

You should recycle as many old devices as you can, even if they're safe to place in the regular garbage. Recycling is the best way to minimize e-waste and keep harmful materials out of the environment.

Examples of items to recycle include:

  •  Cell phones  
  •  Rechargeable and disposable batteries
  •  Charging cords
  •  Wires
  •  LED lighting
  •  Laptops
  •  Computer or TV monitors
  •  Video game consoles 
  •  Remotes and controllers
  •  Computer towers
  •  Electronic toys
  •  Tablets
  •  MP3 players
  •  Office equipment 
  •  Earbuds and headsets 
  •  Small and large appliances
  •  Decorative lighting
  •  E-reader devices
  •  Electronic fitness equipment
  •  AV and recording equipment

Recycling your old electronics gives them a new life. Many e-waste recycling centers have programs to repurpose recycled electronics by repairing, reselling or using reusable parts and materials to build new devices.

Any item containing sulfur, lead, beryllium oxide and mercury is dangerous for you and the environment, especially if they have cracked or shattered.

How Do I Recycle Electronics?

E-waste includes any type of used electronic device you no longer use and plan to discard, reuse or recycle. Due to the number of electronics the average household goes through in a year, e-waste is an increasing concern across the globe. When a consumer no longer wants a product, one of three things tends to happen: 

  • They throw the item in the trash, even if it contains harmful elements and materials. From here, the product is taken to a landfill, incinerated or both.
  • The consumer recycles, resells or donates their unwanted device, prolonging its life.

Unfortunately, less than 20% of electronics get safely recycled. Here are just a few of the benefits of recycling e-waste:

  •  It keeps electronics out of landfills: Of the 80% of electronic waste that doesn't get recycled, much of that ends up in landfills in both the United States and developing countries. Once there, toxic materials can infiltrate water sources, contaminate soil, endanger wildlife and take up a growing amount of space that could be better allocated.  
  •  It minimizes human risk: E-waste poses a risk to human health, even when in landfills. Once in a landfill, they can contaminate soil, water and even air, damaging our nervous, circulatory and reproductive systems. In some countries where landfill labor is unregulated, the risk is especially high for workers who have to sort and incinerate waste. 
  •  It allows for material recovery: Recycling old electronics means new products can be created out of old materials — including gold, copper, silver and palladium — without the need to mine more.

Backup and Erase Data

Remove Batteries and Accessories

Consider Donating or Reusing

Find a Place to Recycle

Ready to recycle? Here's what you need to do

1. Backup and Erase Data 

Before selling or donating your used devices, be sure to back up and erase sensitive data and all personal information. This step allows you to save your photos and files and protect your personal data. When backing up your information, you can choose to move the data to an external storage device, like an SD card or a file on a computer, or upload it to virtual cloud storage for easy access later. Some devices, like smartphones and tablets, may also have apps or built-in settings that let you easily transfer your data from one device to the next.

Examples of potentially sensitive information to back up and erase include: 

  •  Contact information
  •  Saved passwords
  •  Browsing history 
  •  Memos and notes
  •  App passwords and data
  •  Messages
  •  Call history
  •  "Find my phone" features
  •  Files and documents
  •  Programs and software
  •  Sync settings
  •  Game saves and data
  •  Individual user profiles

Once you've backed up everything you want to keep. Some items, like computers and cell phones, come with a factory reset option for easy wiping. For other items, like TVs, erasing your information might be as simple as logging out of streaming accounts. Some electronics, like appliances, usually require no backup at all.

2. Consider Donating or Reusing

In many cases, your unwanted device is just what another person needs. If your item is in working condition, consider selling or donating it to a local charity who might have use for it. For example, some charities and nonprofit organizations accept gently used electronics to use in their offices or give them to those who are less fortunate.

You could even have some damages repaired, especially if you're trying to keep costs low or aren't quite ready to upgrade. Many device manufacturers and repair shops have specially trained employees who know just how to locate and fix many common issues, like shattered cell phone screens or slow computer performance.

You could also wait longer between upgrades. New devices are exciting and have the power to add a lot of convenience to our lives, but by holding on to your working device a little bit longer. Add a durable case and screen protector to your device to prolong its life and prevent the need for early replacement. 

3. Remove Batteries and Accessories

Most recycling centers accept electronic accessories in addition to the device. When taking your device to an e-waste center, try to separate different components for battery recycling and metal reclaim if possible.

When preparing your device or appliance for donation, safely remove and gather all parts and accessories, including: 

  •  The battery
  •  The SIM card
  •  SD cards
  •  Chargers and cords
  •  Screen covers
  •  Protective cases
  •  Stickers and sleeves
  •  Attachments
  •  Adhesive phone grips
  •  Styluses
  •  Attachable keyboards and mice
  •  Remotes and controllers, including batteries
  •  Antennas
  •  Wires, AV cords and connection points
  •  Routers and modems

If you're recycling an old cell phone or tablet, be sure to deactivate or transfer your existing 4G, 5G or LTE service to a new device before turning your old one in.

4. Find a Place to Sell or Recycle

If you've decided to sell or recycle your old devices instead of throwing them out, you have several electronics recycling options available, including:

  •  Electronic waste recycling facilities: Though some traditional recycling centers may accept electronics and appliances, e-waste recycling and processing facilities often have fewer restrictions and greater safety protocols in place. Search e-waste centers near you or contact a local recycling center for further information regarding their electronics recycling program.
  •  Manufacturer disposal: Some manufacturers and retailers have disposal programs to help you trade-in or recycle your unwanted devices. Please note, these usually come with certain requirements and standards your device must meet, such as condition or age. In most cases, expect to ship your package, as individual stores may not accept devices.
  •  ecoATM kiosks: With regular upgrades a part of many consumers' smartphone plans, cell phones make up a large part of e-waste. ecoATM kiosks are a safe, convenient way to sell or recycle your unwanted phone, tablet or MP3 player for instant cash.

Frequently Asked Questions About Electronic Waste

TVs, smartphones, appliances, gadgets, computers — the average household is full of electronics that will eventually require recycling. Fortunately, responsible electronics recycling doesn't have to be challenging. Here are some of the questions we hear most frequently about managing electronic waste.

What If My Electronic Device Is Broken Beyond Repair?

If your device won't turn on, is busted and shattered or seems damaged beyond repair, that's ok! In most cases, you can still recycle them

What Happens to My Device After I Recycle It?

What happens next depends on your device, its condition, and where you recycle it. Sometimes, recycled electronics are transported elsewhere to be safely disassembled and salvaged for usable parts and components, like wiring, circuit boards or lightbulbs. Some facilities may inspect recycled electronics and prepare them for resale as a certified pre-owned device. Other times, facilities ship e-waste to a global processing center equipped to accommodate specific materials, especially toxic ones.

At ecoATM, many of the devices we receive are reusable. Whenever possible, we repurpose used devices and give them a new life on the second-hand market, or we safely recycle them.  

Will E-Waste Recycling Centers Pay Me for My Device?

Some electronic components, like copper wiring or gold plating, might be worth monetary value. It all depends on where you're recycling your waste, as well as the center's individual guidelines and standards. 

Go Green With ecoATM

At ecoATM, we're passionate about keeping unwanted electronics away from the environment. That's why we accept phones, tablets and MP3 players of any type, model, age and condition.

Go Green With ecoATM 

ecoATM makes it easier than ever to sell or recycle your used phones. At ecoATM, we're passionate about keeping unwanted electronics away from the environment. That's why we accept phones, tablets and MP3 players of any type, model, age and condition. So far, we have collected more than 37 million devices, and that number will continue to grow with the help of people like you. ecoATM accepts all tablets, MP3 players and cell phones, even if they're cracked, scratched or unable to power on. Though we may not be able to offer a cash payment for some devices, we always ensure it's properly recycled or reused. We make it easy to go green, and your device may be worth cash on the spot. 

Here's how it works:

  1.   Backup and clear all device data.
  2.   Find a conveniently located ecoATM kiosk near you. Be sure to bring along your ID. 
  3.   Place your device in the test station and wait for the generated quote to appear, if applicable.
  4.   You can also place any charging cords or accessories in the kiosk accessory bin for your convenience, though they are not included in our buy-back program at this time
  5.   Once you accept the offer, wait for a few minutes while the kiosk disperses your payment!

When it comes to electronic recycling, ecoATM is the best choice for both the environment and your wallet. Learn more about the ecoATM mission and price your device today.