The exciting innovations of yesterday are the ever-increasing piles of tech trash of today, and you certainly shouldn't just chuck yesterday's unwanted gadgets in the trash can.
It's not just a good idea to recycle your old tech. In an effort to encourage citizens to dispose of electronics in an environmentally friendly way, laws like Illinois' Electronic Recycling and Reuse Act make it illegal to throw certain electronics away. Whatever the laws in your jurisdiction, here are three legal alternatives to the dumpster for your old smartphones, TVs, and tablets.
1) Use Tech Recycle Programs
Most of the big electronics manufacturers and retailers have developed electronics recycling programs that will recycle or refurbish old products that are returned to them.
Many of these programs will take items even if the companies don't sell them anymore, like Apple's Recycling Program, which will recycle or reuse old Apple products which are returned to them in exchange for store credit or future discounts.
If you just purchased a new television and need to get rid of the old one, companies like Best Buy may offer to remove and recycle your old television for free, assuming you bought the new tech at their store.
2) Donate to Charity/Non-Profit
You might want your old cell phone to be put to better use than just padding the inside of a retailer's warehouse, so there are a number of ways in which you can donate your old gadgets to a non-profit.
Organizations like the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV) will take your old smartphones, laptops, and video game systems and refurbish and resell them, using the revenue to support the programs of that non-profit (e.g., ending domestic violence).
Your donations are considered tax-deductible, assuming the donation organization is a 501(c)(3), and many of the organizations will allow you to ship the tech to them for free.
3) Resell For Cash, Gift Cards
If you're hoping to pocket a couple buckaroos while doing your part for the environment, make sure to check out sites like Gazelle and Glyde, who will offer you cash even for devices which are somewhat damaged.
Unlike reselling digital music, you can get cold hard cash for your old iPhones and mobile devices without violating copyright law.
Online retailing giant Amazon offers another interesting option, trading in your electronic gadgets in exchange for an Amazon gift card which, unlike other store gift cards, can purchase an almost unlimited universe of products.
However you choose to dispose of your digital detritus, try to make sure it doesn't end up leaving toxic metals in a landfill, which may land you with a fine.
- 4 Ways to Recycle Your Old Gadgets (Mashable)
- The Use of Trademarks for Resale of Refurbished Goods (FindLaw)
- Counterfeit Goods Gone Bad: Cons Sell Low Tech Laptops (FindLaw's Legal Grounds)
- Microsoft Issued Permanent Injunction Not to Sell MS Word (FindLaw's Technologist)