One man’s trash is another man’s treasure. Yesterday it was precious landfill-generated methane, today it’s our consumptive society’s discarded electronics, or e-waste. The EPA reports that in 2005 approximately 2 million tons of e-waste were generated in the United States, of which around a mere 350,000 tons were recycled. The remaining bulk wound up in landfills. Not good for the planet, but for the emerging e-waste recycling industry, it’s a boon.
A lot of the e-waste recycling that does occur now is in partnerships with large institutions getting rid of large quantities of electronics. However, recyclers are increasingly reaching out to the individual consumer to help you recycle that old cell phone, laptop, or iPod. Who can help you?
SecondRotation, a site that will sell your old electronics on eBay (EBAY), said this week that they will be accepting older, “worthless” gadgets to recycle in an effort to stem the flow of e-waste into landfills. The site was already useful before the move: Simply log on, find your device, answer six yes-or-no questions, rate the gadget with one to four stars, and hit “calculate.” You’ll get a price quote and if you want to sell, you simply package it up and call DHL, who will pick it up at your home.
One of the best parts is that there is no charge to you. SecondRotation will cover the cost of shipping a variety of recycled gadgets (mostly smaller devices), though they don’t accept all e-waste. Additionally, they are still searching to form a partnership to effectively recycle this e-waste they have started to collect.
If an old-skool, busted iPod is your problem, you can send that to BuyMyBrokeniPod.com. A sixth-generation, completely dead, podder will net you $63 and change. Not much but it’s better than chucking it in the dustbin.
Office Depot (ODP) recently expanded its tech trash recycling program, allowing customers to buy a small ($5), medium ($10), or large ($15) box which, once crammed full of e-waste, can be brought back to one of their stores for recycling.
If you’ve tried to e-cycle recently, you’ve probably found that most of your options are highly localized. Many non-profits, charities and corporations will offer drop-off options in your city. The Electronic Industries Alliance E-Cycling site compiles a list of nationwide e-cyclers by zip code.
One big concern to remember with all of this is to make sure your e-cycling option is acting responsibly, particularly when it comes to “offshore recycling programs.” Used electronics that are shipped overseas can present a problem if the recycling is not handled to the end of the product’s lifecycle and can introduce toxic elements into developing countries. The Basel Action Network offers comprehensive information on how to ensure your products are e-cycled properly.