Electronic Waste



How To Recycle Your Electronics Using Manufacturer's Programs

April 2009 by Jennifer L. DeLeo, PCMag.com

Consumer electronics-including TVs, computers, peripherals, audio equipment, and phones-make up almost 2 percent of the municipal solid waste stream, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). This percentage may seem small and inconsequential, but the quantity of electronic waste is steadily rising.

In fact, the EPA estimates that the number of obsolete consumer electronics sold between 1980 and 2007 is 235 million; a total weight of 2.25 million tons. Where are these 235 million units now? Eighteen percent of these products were collected for recycling; the rest are, unfortunately, sitting in landfills. Toxins (lead, mercury, flame retardants, and the like) from these electronics can seep into the soil and ground water, posing serious health and environmental risks.

So what can we as consumers do to properly dispose of electronic waste? First, take inventory of the electronics in your household. (The Consumer Electronics Association estimates that Americans own 24 electronic products per household.) Find out what's not being used or what's stashed away in your closets collecting dust. Maybe you can give your used PC to a family member or donate it to your local school. Or better yet, DealNews.com Feature Editor Louis Ramirez (also of Gizmodo fame) offered some other ideas toPCMagextend the life of your old PC by using it as a media server to store all of your music, videos, and photos, or use it as a test PC for trying out Linux.

If you can't repair, refurbish, or reuse your electronics-or you must own the latest version-then the next best thing is to recycle them. There are a plethora of options to choose from, too. You can recycle through a product's manufacturer, your local electronics store, or an online trade-in program that offers a cash reward or gift card. Ramirez's top choices for manufacturer trade-in programs are the ones offered by HP and Gateway, since they tend to give you the most money back.

But with so many choices, how do you know the best way to approach recycling your outdated tech? That's easy. We researched all of the major electronics manufacturers from A to Z to find out what kinds of recycling programs they offer, if they charge a recycling fee, whether or not you get cash in return, and which geographical regions they service.

Next, we compiled a list of six retailers, including Best Buy and Staples, to reveal their recycling efforts. Lastly, you'll know exactly where to get cash back or gift cards for your recycled electronics by visiting the seven cash-back Web sites we recommend.

Keep in mind that all regions have different recycling practices, so please adhere to your local laws.

Company: Acer
What can be recycled: Computer systems, monitors (LCD or CRT), and laptops that are manufactured by Acer. 
Recycling program(s) offered: Use Acer's automated online recycling service to check if a recycling program is available in your state. If so, select the type, size, and quantity of the product you wish to recycle. Type in your address and select your payment method (if any).
Fee(s): Acer may charge shipping and handling fees, which can range from $15 to $40 per item, depending upon the type and quantity of the hardware to be returned. In other cases, depending on where you reside, the shipping and handling may be waived.
Cash back/rewards: None
Participating region(s): U.S.

Company: Apple
What can be recycled: Macs, iPods, iPhones, as well as other cell phones, computers, and monitors-regardless of manufacturer.
Recycling program(s) offered: Through the Apple Recycling Program, you can purchase any qualifying Apple computer or monitor from the Apple retail store or Apple.com, and receive free recycling of your old computer and monitor. Apple also offers iPod and cell phone recycling; simply fill in the form with your name and address to receive a prepaid mailing label, and send them your worn-out iPod or cell phone.
Fee(s): None
Cash back/rewards: For every iPod recycled, you'll receive 10 percent off the purchase of a new iPod.
Participating region(s): U.S., Canada, Europe, Australia, Asia Pacific, Japan

Company: ASUS
What can be recycled: Any old ASUS-branded products, including laptops, displays, and PDAs, as well as other-branded tech products.
Recycling program(s) offered: ASUS works with recycling vendor GRX (Guaranteed Recycling Xperts) to offer the ASUS Takeback program. Fill out your information on the online form, and a shipping label will be mailed to you within 5 business days. Attach the shipping label to the box your ASUS product is in, and drop it off at your nearest FedEx/Kinko's location.
Fee(s): Free for ASUS products; other branded products require a fee.
Cash back/rewards: None
Participating region(s): North America, Europe, Taiwan

Company: Canon
What can be recycled: Canon-branded binoculars, camcorders, cameras (digital/film), projectors, fax machines, printers, scanners, ink, toner, paper
Recycling program(s) offered: With Canon's Customer Products Recycling Program, select the type of Canon product you want to recycle, select the model number, and enter the serial number. Under Canon's Toner Cartridge Return Program, consumers can print out free shipping labels for returning printer cartridges.
Fee(s): The Customer Products Recycling Program does charge a fee, depending on the type of product, ranging from $6 to $12 for each item; the Toner Cartridge Program is free.
Cash back/rewards: None
Participating region(s): U.S., Canada, Puerto Rico, Europe, Africa, Asia, Australia

Company: Creative Labs
Recycling program(s) offered: All Creative Labs-branded products.
How to get started: Creative offers a Rechargeable Battery Recycling Program. Send any Creative product or Creative rechargeable battery to the address provided on its Web site.
Fee(s): Standard postal service mailing/packaging rates apply.
Cash back/rewards: None
Participating region(s): U.S.

Company: Dell
What can be recycled: Dell-branded products, including notebooks, desktops, and monitors, as well as printers, ink, and toner from other manufacturers.
Recycling program(s) offered: Dell offers several options for recycling. First, you can recycle any of your unused Dell products at any time; just visit the Dell Product Recycling page. Second, if you buy a new Dell desktop or notebook and select the free recycling option at the time of purchase, the company will recycle your old PC and monitor (including other manufacturers). Staples formed an in-store recycling program for Dell's customers: bring in your old Dell-branded computer, printer, or other item, and Staples will recycle it for you. In addition, Dell's Reconnect recycling program in conjunction with Goodwill Industries is offered in a total of 18 states, letting you drop off any brand of used equipment at participating Goodwill stores.
Fee(s): None
Cash back/rewards: Get a free Dell gift card through Dell Exchange. Simply select an item category, enter the required information, accept the trade-in value of your used electronic (from Dell or other manufacturers), print a prepaid shipping label, and ship your item to Dell's trade-in warehouse. Once received and accepted, you will get a Dell gift card by mail in about 2 to 3 weeks.
Participating region(s): U.S.

Company: Epson
What can be recycled: Epson printers, scanners, projectors, accessories, ink cartridges, toner
Recycling program(s) offered: Through the Epson Recycle Program, ten used Epson products can be returned at a time. Once you've provided all the necessary information and your order is completed, you will receive a prepaid FedEx shipping label through the mail in order to send your products. Once sent, used products are shredded at a licensed facility and separated into ferrous and non-ferrous components.
Fee(s): $10 per item for shipping and recycling costs.
Cash back/rewards: Receive a $5 coupon per item recycled for use at the Epson Online Store.
Participating region(s): U.S.

Company: Fujitsu
What can be recycled: Fujitsu laptops and tablets only.
Recycling program(s) offered: Fujitsu's Recycling Program includes two services: individual recycling and bulk recycling. Select the product name, model number, part number, and quantity of items; provide your contact information; print your shipping label; and take your package to the UPS store closest to you to have it shipped. Once received, Fujitsu sends your old laptop or tablet to a recycling facility, where it's recycled and refurbished, then sold for reuse.
Fee(s): None
Cash back/rewards: None
Participating region(s): U.S.

Company: Gateway
What can be recycled: Any pre-owned products from various manufacturers listed in Gateway's drop-down menu, including monitors, servers, and gaming systems.
Recycling program(s) offered: Gateway offers two programs: the Gateway Trade-In Program and theGateway Recycle Program. The former lets you trade in pre-owned products-regardless of manufacturer. Use the Trade-In Estimator to see what it's valued at; then register for an account, and pack and ship your items to Gateway's warehouse. The latter lets you recycle your used item; enter the product category and shipping weight.
Fee(s): Charged a recycling fee (based on item) for each item; trade-ins are free.
Cash back/rewards: Earn money for each trade-in. We've seen as much as $140.
Participating region(s): U.S.

Company: Hewlett-Packard
What can be recycled: Both HP and non-HP products, including monitors, digital cameras, and printers.
Recycling program(s) offered: HP offers four great programs. The first is the Trade-In Program for both HP and non-HP products. Second, HP Financial Services will pay your company for unwanted computer equipment through the Return for Cash program. Recycle HP inkjet and laserjet cartridges and any brand of computer hardware and rechargeable batteries through the Recycle program. Or if you're in a giving mood, donate your products to the National Cristina Foundation.
Fee(s): None
Cash back/rewards: Cash back from both the Trade-In and Return for Cash Programs.
Participating region(s): Global

Company: Lenovo
What can be recycled: Lenovo products as well as other-branded products listed on the site.
Recycling program(s) offered: Trade in your used electronics through Lenovo's ECO Take Back program. Simply select your state, choose your device (desktop, phone, laptop, monitor, music player), and fill in the necessary information to get the estimated value of your trade-in. Lenovo has a zero landfill policy; the company claims your device will either be reused in whole or properly recycled in the U.S.
Fee(s): Free shipping for all Lenovo and select IBM products; fee for non-Lenovo products.
Cash back/rewards: Receive an ECO International Visa Prepaid Card with the trade-in value of your product.
Participating region(s): U.S.

Company: LG Electronics
What can be recycled: LG, Zenith, and GoldStar brands of televisions, monitors, audio equipment, video cassette players and recorders, DVD players and recorders, combination TV/VCR and TV/DVD units, set-top boxes; non-LG products are also accepted.
Recycling program(s) offered: Through a partnership with Waste Management Inc., the LG Electronics Recycling Program provides recycling of used, unwanted, obsolete, or damaged LG products. You can drop off your products at one of the 160 designated Waste Management sites across the U.S. Consumers may drop off up to five LG-branded items at a time. Cell phones, smartphones, and GPSs are covered by a separate LG recycling program dubbed the LG Eco-Mobilization Program; you can print a postage-free mailing label to send to LG's recycling partner or drop it off at a center nearest you.
Fee(s): None, but a fee may be charged by Waste Management for non-LG brands.
Cash back/rewards: None
Participating region(s): U.S.

Company: Motorola
What can be recycled: Motorola-branded phones, modems, routers
Recycling program(s) offered: If participating in Motorola's Mobile Phone Recycling program, here's how to get started: ensure that your phone's battery is discharged first. Then place your phone in a packaging box and print the prepaid postage label and affix to the package. Drop the package into the mail. That's it! The same can be done when recycling any Motorola modem or router.
Fee(s): None
Cash back/rewards: None
Participating region(s): Global

Company: Nokia
What can be recycled: Nokia phones 
Recycling program(s) offered: To recycle your unwanted Nokia phone, fill in the online form, and Nokia will populate a postage-paid return label for you. Or drop off your old Nokia phone at its flagship stores in Chicago or New York.
Fee(s): None
Cash back/rewards: None
Participating region(s): U.S.

Company: Olympus
What can be recycled: Olympus's rechargeable camera batteries 
Recycling program(s) offered: Olympus is working with Call2Recycle to offer rechargeable battery recycling. Drop off any Olympus rechargeable batteries (including Nickel Metal Hydride and Lithium Ion) at participating retail stores or collection sites, including The Home Depot, Sears, and Target. Or use Call2Recyle's site locator to find the retail collection site nearest you.
Fee(s): None
Cash back/rewards: None
Participating region(s): U.S.

Company: Samsung
What can be recycled: Both Samsung-branded and non-Samsung products, including TVs, phones, and toner.
Recycling program(s) offered: Samsung works directly with e-waste recyclers like Eco International and CRT Processing to offer its various recycling programs. Available in all 50 states, Samsung's Recycling Direct program lets you recycle your Samsung-branded electronics by bringing them to any of the designated drop-off centers. Just enter your zip code to find a Samsung Recycling Direct location near you. With Samsung's Takeback And Recycling Program, all returned cartridges are said to be recycled back into useful materials to become new products again; simply register, request a packing label, and leave at a FedEx location. For mobile phone users, you can recycle your old phone through the Samsung Mobile Take-Back Program by printing out a shipping label and mailing your package through the post office.
Fee(s): There is no recycling fee for Samsung-branded products; but there is a fee for other-branded products.
Cash back/rewards: None
Participating region(s): U.S.

Company: Sharp
What can be recycled: TVs, DVD players, copiers, appliances, and more-regardless of manufacturer.
Recycling program(s) offered: In 2007, Sharp teamed up with both Panasonic and Toshiba to form the Electronics Manufacturers Recycling Management Company (MRM) in the U.S., which sets up recycling locations and tracks where recycled materials travel. Consumers can find an MRM drop-off center in their home state. Most MRM drop-off sites accept all types and brands of consumer electronics for recycling. TheSharp Toner Recycling Program is for recycling Sharp copier toner products only; complete the online form and bring your package to any UPS store.
Fee(s): MRM centers accept Panasonic-, Sharp-, and Toshiba-branded TVs and other consumer electronics at no charge. However, there may be a charge for recycling other brands or products.
Cash back/rewards: None
Participating region(s): U.S.

Company: Sony
What can be recycled: Sony-branded gaming consoles, MP3 players, TVs, and more.
Recycling program(s) offered: Sony partnered with Waste Management to provide the Sony National Take Back Recycling Program for the safe disposal of your Sony electronics. Bring your unwanted electronics to any participating Waste Management eCycling drop-off location. Waste Management will then collect, store, track inventory, and dismantle the products in raw materials. If you need to dispose of an old Sony rechargeable battery, drop it off at a Sony Style store near you.
Fee(s): None
Cash back/rewards: None
Participating region(s): U.S.

Company: Toshiba
What can be recycled: Laptops, monitors, home audio receivers, GPS navigation systems, and other consumer electronics-regardless of manufacturer.
Recycling program(s) offered: Recycle any brand of electronics through Toshiba's Trade-In Program. Use the online trade-in estimator to see how much you'd get for your item; items with no trade-in value will have an option to recycle for free. Print a prepaid shipping label and ship your item to the trade-in warehouse. 
Fee(s): None
Cash back/rewards: You'll receive a check in the mail (based on the trade-in value of your returned product).
Participating region(s): U.S.

Company: Xerox
What can be recycled: Cartridges from Xerox-branded office printers (Phaser, DocuPrint N Series, and WorkCentre C2424), multifunction, copiers, production printers, and fax machines.
Recycling program(s) offered: Through the Xerox Green World Alliance Recycling Program, you can recycle your ink cartridges by printing a prepaid UPS return label, packaging your cartridges, and shipping them through UPS.
Fee(s): None
Cash back/rewards: None
Participating region(s): Global



Company: Best Buy
What can be recycled: Most consumer electronics purchased from Best Buy and other stores. However, the following items are currently not accepted in Best Buy stores: TVs and monitors larger than 32 inches; electronics containing Freon (air conditioners, dehumidifiers and mini-fridges); and appliances. Best Buy will remove an old or obsolete television and appliance at no charge from a consumers' home when a new product from Best Buy is purchased and is being delivered.
How to get started: Best Buy works with many e-waste recyclers, including Regency Technologies, Recellular, and Electronics Recyclers International (ERI), to offer in-store recycling. Go to any Best Buy store location to drop off your used electronics. The store accepts up to two items per household per day. 
Fee(s): There's no fee for recycling most consumer electronics, but there is a recycling fee of $10 for TVs, CRTs, monitors, and laptops, which is offset with a $10 Best Buy gift card.

Company: Office Depot
What can be recycled: Monitors, fax machines, desktops, laptops, printers, peripherals, digital cameras, video cameras, DVD players, MP3 players, small televisions, and cords & cables; cracked monitors, appliances, and items containing Freon or radioactive materials will not be accepted.
How to get started: Office Depot offers a convenient Tech Recycling Service. Head to your local Office Depot store and ask an associate for a tech recycling box (three sizes available). Then stuff the box with as many acceptable items as you can. Bring the box to an associate to be shipped. All recycling will occur in the U.S.
Fee(s): You will be charged $5, $10, or $15 for this service to cover the costs of the box, shipment, and recycling.

Company: RadioShack
What can be recycled: Most consumer electronics purchased from RadioShack and other stores.
How to get started: Through RadioShack's Trade-In Program, you can trade in your item and get a RadioShack gift card in return for its value. Go to RadioShack.com to have your item appraised. Then print out a prepaid shipping label and mail your package. If your item is proven to be in the condition you indicated, you will be sent a RadioShack gift card within 14 days.
Fee(s): None

Company: Staples
What can be recycled: Used computers, monitors, laptops, desktop printers, faxes, and all-in-ones; ink and toner cartridges
How to get started: Bring in your electronics to any U.S. Staples store. Your stuff will be bagged and sealed, then picked up and delivered to Staples's recycling provider, Eco International. When returning HP, Lexmark, or Dell ink and toner cartridges, Staples will give you $3 in Staples Rewards toward a future purchase of ink or toner.
Fee(s): No recycling charge for smaller computer peripherals such as keyboards, mice, and speakers; a recycling fee of $10 will be charged for larger equipment to cover handling, transport, product disassembly, and recycling.

Company: TigerDirect.com
What can be recycled: You can trade in used, working technology products in exchange for a TigerDirect.com gift card.
How to get started: To participate in TigerDirect.com's Trade-In Program, follow these four steps: register for a trade-in account; select a category to use the trade-in estimator and receive an instant estimate; print a prepaid shipping label; and ship your item to the trade-in warehouse. You'll receive a TigerDirect.com Gift Card in the mail, based on the trade-in value of your item.
Fee(s): None

Company: Wal-Mart
What can be recycled: Cell phones
How to get started: Recycle your old cell phones through Walmart.com. Print the free shipping label and affix to package. Drop it in the mail. Proceeds from recycled phones will help support United Way, a national network of more than 1,300 locally governed organizations that help communities.
Fee(s): None

This site currently purchases iPods and iPhones, cell phones/PDAs, Microsoft Zunes, and game consoles. You don't have to worry about the condition of your gadget, either; BuyMyTronics.com will still buy it from you. Once you provide info about your gadget, you will receive an instant price quote. Then ship them your gadget and provide your e-mail address or physical address where you would like your payment sent via Paypal or check.

Cell For Cash

Get cash back for sending in your old cell phone to be recycled. Accepts phones from HP, Motorola, Nokia, and more. If your cell phone is not on the site's buy back list, you can choose to donate it toCellPhoneBank.org to provide communication for someone in need.


Receive cash for your preowned tech products (monitors, laptops, desktops, game consoles, digital cameras, printers, MP3 players, phones), or donate your cash to charity. To begin, get a trade-in quote for your product. Describe its condition, package it, and choose your preferred payment method. All payments will be issued approximately 45 days after your product is inspected, whether it's in the form of a check to you or a check to charity.


Get cash for your cell phone or iPod, or donate it to charity on Flipswap.com. Find your cell phone or iPod on the list and state its condition to receive a trade-in value. Pack your cell phone or iPod in a padded envelope or small box, and ship it to Flipswap for free. If your gadget is in working condition or can be repaired, the company sends it to a place where it can be reused. But it's broken beyond repair, it will be recycled. Best of all, Flipswap's reLeaf project plants a tree for every phone recycled. You or your chosen charity will get a check in the mail.


Gazelle accepts phones, digital cameras, MP3 players, computers, external hard drives, and more. On average, Gazelle pays its customers $115 for its recycled gadgets. Enter the make and model of your gadget, and its condition, to receive a monetary offer. Gazelle pays for the shipping of your item and will even send you a box.


Recycle your desktop, phone, laptop/tablet, monitor, or digital music player here, and MyBoneYard will pay you for it. Input all of the necessary information to get your estimated reward. You'll receive payment in the form of a Visa Prepaid Card.


TechForward believes it's best to plan beforehand what you will do with your electronics once they're old or unwanted. The site lets you purchase a Guaranteed Buyback plan for your current device to ensure that when you're ready to upgrade, your item will still have a cash value. All you have to do is keep your item in good condition. When TechForward receives your used device, the company will resell it to someone who needs it, or if it can't be resold, it will recycle your item. You will receive a check or gift card within 60 days of postmarking your device. Plan prices range from $19.99 to $249.99, depending on your item.

via PCMag.com