How to Dispose of Electronics
Options for Getting Rid of Old TVs, Computers and Other Devices
Getting rid of electronics, like old TVs, computers and cellphones can seem tricky, but there are actually several options for electronics disposal. Many older electronics are still valuable and can be donated or recycled, and if not, there are plenty of options for throwing them away. Use this guide to learn how to dispose of electronics responsibly.
Assess the Condition of Your Electronics
The first step to choosing how to dispose of your old electronics is to determine what condition they’re in. Electronics in working condition that aren’t significantly outdated can be donated to charity. Otherwise, they should be recycled where possible.
Your electronics can be donated if:
- They are less than five years old.
- They still function reliably.
- They do not require major repairs or parts replacement.
Note that while many charities don’t have the resources to repair damaged devices, some that specialize in electronics may accept items in need of repair.
Options for Donating Your Electronics
Donating your old electronics allows you to dispose of them without harming the environment.
Consider the following options for donating your electronics:
- Local schools and libraries: For computers and related accessories.
- Local adult education and employment programs: For computers and related accessories.
- Local domestic violence and homeless shelters: For cellphones, computers and TVs.
- Local senior centers or assisted living facilities: For TVs.
- Computers with Causes: For computers and related accessories.
- Secure the Call: For cellphones.
- Goodwill: For computers, cellphones and various electronic accessories. No TVs in many locations.
- Salvation Army: For computers, cellphones and TVs less than five years old.
- Vietnam Veterans of America: For TVs and computers.
Keep in mind that most charities won’t be able to accept all types of electronics. Always inquire about their current needs and in what condition they accept items.
Options for Recycling Your Electronics
If your old electronics aren’t suitable for donating, recycling them will conserve the materials they contain while keeping any hazardous substances out of landfills. Options for recycling electronics vary by location.
Consider the following options for disposing of electronics by recycling:
- Manufacturer take-back programs.
- Amazon trade-in program: For cellphones, tablets and more.
- Local retailers: Best Buy and some other consumer electronics stores offer recycling programs.
- Local e-waste collection events: Often hosted by city governments.
- Local electronics recyclers: Use Earth911’s recycle search to find some near you.
- Call2Recycle drop box: Find one near you to recycle cellphones and rechargeable batteries.
Protect Your Information Before Disposing of Electronics
Before donating or recycling electronics, it’s essential to remove all of your personal information. For computers, follow these steps to wipe your hard drive. For cellphones, follow these steps to remove personal data.
Options for Disposing of Your Old Electronics
Since some electronics contain harmful materials, throwing them out should generally be a last resort.
Prior to disposal, any rechargeable batteries should be removed from your electronics and recycled. Rechargeable batteries contain harmful substances that should not be sent to landfills.
If you’re disposing of old electronics as part of a larger home cleanout, renting a dumpster is a good way to get rid of everything at once. Local regulations may prohibit using a dumpster for electronics disposal in some areas. In others, an additional fee may apply for handling electronics. Call us to find out if electronics are accepted for disposal in your area.
If you just have a few electronics to get rid of in addition to your everyday trash, you can place them in your garbage can or on the curb for collection in many cities. However, some cities ban electronics from area landfills due to the hazardous materials they contain. Double-check the rules in your location.
Household Hazardous Waste Facility
If curbside collection isn’t an option in your area and you don’t have enough junk to warrant renting a dumpster, then the right way to dispose of electronics is to drop them off at your local household hazardous waste facility. Some facilities serve individual cities, while others operate at the county level. To find yours, search “household hazardous waste” on your city's website.
Electronics Disposal FAQs
Have some other tricky items to dispose of? Check out our other bulk waste disposal how-tos to learn how to get rid of other bulky and difficult debris.
Need to know if electronics are allowed in dumpsters in your area?
Give us a call at 1-866-284-6164 to learn more.