A reader wrote in with a question about old electronics: what to do with them, how to get rid of them without causing an ecological disaster. A propos, now that your iPad 2 is SO yesterday.
Spring is a very good time to think about electronics recycling, what with Earth Day at the end of April and everyone cleaning out their garages. In years past, organizations have scheduled electronics collection days to coincide with Earth Day, though that’s getting more rare — but for a good reason. It’s actually becoming easier to dispose of your old electronics responsibly.
Your first stop should always be a friend or relative who likes fiddling with useless stuff. Every family has one; my basement is full of broken gadgets, some of which I paid real money for. If you’re unable to pawn off your junk on a tinkerer, there are two main places to get rid of it.
Your municipal dump. It might be called a recycling center, reclamation center, solid waste facility — usually something more idealistic than “dump.” Most are doing a lot more recycling than they used to, both because green is trendy and because recovering the resources locked inside toxic trash can make them a tiny bit of money.
Rules vary between towns, so check with your solid waste or public works department to find out what you can drop off. Information is usually readily available on the town’s website.
In Manchester, for example, you can drop off televisions, monitors and computers for free; other electronics are $0.075 per pound. In Nashua, two electronic items per year (including “computer monitors & components, printers, televisions, VCRs, DVD players, microwaves, etc.”) are free, and additional items are $5 each. Of course you need to be a resident — you can’t pick one site based on its policies.
Big box stores. Best Buy and Staples both offer some form of recycling, both in-store and via their websites. In a best-case scenario, they’ll actually pay you for your items, but you’ll only get cash for pretty new and fully functional gadgets; in addition, you’ll probably get less than you could selling the things.
So don’t view it as a money-making opportunity, just as a place to bring your junk. At Best Buy, you can haul in up to three items per household per day, including just about any kind of electronic device except console TVs, tube TVs and monitors larger than 32 inches, and appliances. Those are usually covered under the store’s haul-away program when you buy a replacement from them, though. You can get a complete list by searching the term “recycling” at BestBuy.com.
Staples has much the same service, though they don’t sell major appliances there, so don’t even try bringing a fridge in. You can recycle up to six items per day, but they specifically exclude televisions, appliances, floor model copiers, stereo equipment, alkaline batteries, and “certain other household electronics.” They also offer $2 in Staples Rewards, basically coupons, for most brands of ink cartridge. Again, search “recycling” at their website, Staples.com, for a full list.
Other stores claim less comprehensive programs; Wal-Mart partners with Samsung to recycle that brand’s electronics for free and other brands for a small premium, but no local locations are listed as drop-off sites. You’re better off at Staples or Best Buy — though you might want to print their recycling page and ask at the customer service desk before hauling your stuff inside.
Witness the recycling of old jokes at twitter.com/CitizenjaQ.