There are many excellent reasons to recycle your old, no-longer-needed or wanted tech. For one, some of the parts in your old gadgets may be reusable, so instead of them going to waste, they can get a second life. That’s particularly important for the rare metals in many electronics, since we only have a limited supply of those before we run out of them forever.
The second reason is that many of your electronics contain toxic substances, says Consumer Reports, including lead and mercury, and should not be tossed into the regular old garbage can. Instead, items must be disposed of safely where they can’t hurt people or the environment. Finally, some tech — particularly those that contain non-removable batteries — are potentially dangerous as they can start fires if crushed in a compactor. In other words, it’s important to responsibly dispose of unwanted tech items for all sorts of reasons.
In the past, that could be complicated, but fortunately, many national retailers have stepped up to offer e-waste recycling for customers, making the sometimes-confusing process of safely getting rid of old tech far less so. So get ready to clean out your junk drawers, basements and closets. You’ll make new space in your home and allow parts of your computers, TVs, cell phones and other gadgets to be used again. Win-win!
9 Stores That Help You Recycle Your Tech
How it works: Trade in an old device for credit towards your next Apple purchase. If you aren’t ready to buy something new, you can still get an Apple gift card to hold onto for future use. Even if your old tech item is no longer eligible for any credit back, Apple will still recycle it for you for free, no matter what model it is. Apple says you may earn up to $596 for smartphones; $655 for tablets; $1,570 for computers; and $150 for watches. All other devices, such as printers, monitors and headphones, can be recycled.
If you want to mail in your item to trade/recycle, Apple will send you a prepaid trade-in kit to do so, or you may visit any Apple retail store to trade in your device.
Cost: It costs you nothing, and you may get credit that will save you towards a future Apple in-store or online purchase.
Learn more: Apple Trade-In
Amazon (Option 1)
How it works: Amazon has two different ways to recycle old tech. The first allows you to recycle Kindle e-readers, tablets, streaming media players, bluetooth speakers (including Amazon Echo devices), headphones, home security devices and wireless routers. Whether you’ve purchased them from Amazon or another store, you’ll get a gift card and credit towards a future purchase in return. All you have to do is answer a few questions about your device. Amazon will appraise it and let you know the amount of gift card you’re eligible for (if at all) and what kind of discount you’ll get on a future purchase of the same type of device.
For example, say you have a tablet (whether that’s a Kindle Fire, Apple iPad or Microsoft Surface product). You would tell Amazon information about it, including the make and model. Amazon will give you a gift card estimate. Once you ship it back to Amazon using a free shipping label they provide, Amazon.com gives you a gift eard equal to the appraised value of your old tablet, plus a bonus 20% off any of the current generation Fire tablets.
Cost: Free to use, with potential of getting a credit to use at Amazon.com and a discount on a future tech purchase.
Learn more: Amazon Device Recycling
Amazon (Option 2)
How it works: Amazon partners with Re-Teck on their Amazon Recycling Program, and the company will take care of recycling your small electronics for free, including cell phones, fitness trackers, keyboards and mice, video game consoles, tablets and e-readers. If you’ve confirmed that your old gadget is not eligible for a gift card/credit through Amazon Device Recycling, this is a great way to unload old stuff easily. Just tell them how many things you have in each category, and Amazon will provide you with a UPS label to ship the items to Re-Teck to dispose of or recycle responsibly.
Learn more: Amazon Recycling
Best Buy (Option 1)
How it works: Best Buy has two different ways to recycle old tech. They’re happy to take your items, big and small, whether you purchased through them or a different store. You can recycle up to three items per day (some limitations apply) for free. That includes larger electronics such as televisions, computers, vacuums and fans as well as other items like ink and toner, speakers and security systems. Some popular consumer electronics may be eligible for a trade-in, such as laptops, tablets, phones, gaming hardware and video games. For example, if you trade in an Apple Watch series 4 (stainless steels, 40 mm, in good condition), Best Buy will give you a $70 gift card. Do contact your local Best Buy ahead of time before bringing in an item to be recycled, as some states have different laws on what can and can’t be disposed of in this way.
Cost: Free and you can potentially earn money in the form of a Best Buy gift card.
Learn more: Best Buy Haul Away & Recycling
Best Buy (Option 2)
How it works: For large items in your home — think televisions, major appliances like dishwashers, microwaves, dryers and stoves and fitness equipment including treadmills, ellipticals and rowing machines – Best Buy will come to your home and remove and recycle up to two large products and an unlimited number of smaller electronics, all for $199.99. If you’re getting a new item from Best Buy and the delivery team is taking the old item away as part of that purchase, that fee drops to only $29.99 to $49.99 depending on the item.
Cost: $29.99 – $199.99
Learn more: Best Buy Haul Away
Dell (Option 1)
How it works: Dell wants to help you recycle computers, computer accessories, batteries and ink and toner cartridges — one option involves them helping you recycle, the other involves getting trade-in credit. For trade-in, just answer a few Qs about your Dell or non-Dell computer, then take it to any FedEx office to ship back. You’ll get a Dell Trade-In credit to use towards your next purchase with the company.
Cost: Free, and you might get money towards a future Dell purchase
Learn more: Dell Trade-In
Dell Option 2
How it works: If your device isn’t eligible for a trade-in, or you aren’t anning to shop with Dell, you can still donate your items by dropping them off at a participating Goodwill OR return the item to Dell to handle your e-waste for you, cost-free.
Learn more: Dell How to Recycle
How it works: If you have old computers, monitors, printers, portable media players, ink and toner cartridges or other small-to-mid-sized electronics, you can get rid of them responsibly with Goodwill. Goodwill, in partnership with associated tech companies, offers recycling of computers and other electronic waste. You drop it off, and the nonprofit promises that the device will be refurbished or recycled to US Department of Defense standards.
You’ll have to inquire if your Goodwill location offers this service,, as not all do. To find out more, search for your nearest Goodwill headquarters here by checking on the “headquarters” filter and contacting them for specific details.
Learn more: Goodwill
Google Store Trade-In (Option 1)
How it works: Google offers two ways to recycle your old tech. The first way is great if you wish to purchase a Pixel phone. Trade in your old phone to offset the purchase of a new Pixel. Whether you have a Google phone, or one from Apple, Samsung, LG or Motorola, Google says all you have to do is buy a new phone from them, and at the same time, you can get an estimate on your current phone. Once your new phone arrives, ship back your old phone using the prepaid trade-in kit. Once they receive your old phone, you’ll get a refund back on the credit card you used to purchase your new phone. The company says you don’t have to return old chargers and cables, but if you want to, include them in the box and they’ll recycle them.
Cost: Free, and you may get money back on the purchase of a new Pixel phone.
Learn more: Google Store Trade-In
Google (Option 2)
How it works: If you have items such as a no-longer-wanted laptop, smartphone, tablet, home speaker or VR headset, Google will recycle them for you. You tell them what you have, they’ll give you a free shipping label so you can box up and return your items to their recycling partner. They’ll take it from there.
Learn more: Google Recycling
How it works: Microsoft offers a variety of ways to dispose of old tech. Trade in a tablet, phone, laptop or console and get money back to your PayPal or bank account. As with most trade-in programs, you’ll tell Microsoft some information about your tech item, such as make, model, storage capacity, whether it’s in working condition or not and a few other things. They’ll tell you how much they think your item is worth. You send it back to their partner, Teladvance, using a free prepaid shipping label. (They say once they receive it, if it doesn’t meet criteria, they will recycle the item for you or if you prefer, they will return it to you for free.). Otherwise, you’ll get your money back to your bank or PayPal account within 15 days.
Cost: Free, and the potential to make money back, whether or not you wish to purchase anything from the Microsoft store.
Learn more: Microsoft Store Online Trade-in Program
Microsoft Option 2
How it works: The company will recycle your old Microsoft products, and in certain parts of the U.S., they will also recycle other brands’ devices. To find out the options in your state, choose your region→ country→ state to find out how to recycle near you.
Learn more: Microsoft End-of-Life Management
How it works: Office Depot will take your old devices, either for trade-in or to recycle, and will also take your old ink and toner cartridges.
- For ink and toner recycling, bring them into the store (whether you purchased them with Office Depot or not) and Office Depot will take them off your hands. You’ll get $2 back in rewards per recycled cartridge. Office Depot rewards customers can also get a free pre-paid UPS shipping label and ship back their cartridges if they prefer.
- For computers/other gadgets, bring your device to any Office Depot. You may get an offer for your item, and you’ll receive a gift card to Office Depot for that amount. Or they’ll recycle it for free for you if it isn’t eligible for any trade-in money.
Cost: Free, and you might be eligible for money in the form of an Office Depot gift card
Learn more: Office Depot GreenerOffice
How it works: Camcorders, computers, gaming consoles, keyboards, routers, tablets and phones are just a few of the items Staples will recycle for you. You can bring up to seven items per day to unload.
Learn more: Staples Recycling Services
Things to Know About Recycling Your Tech
Wipe Your Data First!
Before you get rid of your computers, phones, tablets or any other device that has information about you, you have to wipe all your data. (That is, after you do any necessary backing up of files.) Consumer Reports has good information on how to do this effectively — as it goes beyond a simple factory reset.
Other Options to Recycle Your Tech
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has other suggestions for donating your old devices, including links to Call2Recycle, Earth911 and GreenerGadgets, which can also help you find a place to safely rid yourself of unwanted items. There’s also MRM, which partners with brands to recycle e-waste.
How to Securely Shred Important Papers and Files
Once you’ve tackled old tech, turn your attention to all the paper files and documents that you no longer need. Here are businesses that help you shred your personal files and documents.
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