UNITED STATES June 13 2015 1:00 PM
Electronic waste – or e-waste – consists of any obsolete or broken electric items that you wish to dispose of. This can include everything from computer towers to typewriters from the ‘70s. Unfortunately, it is not environmentally friendly (nor technically allowed) to simply throw these items into the dumpster as many of these unwanted devices can contain toxic materials – and your personal data. If you plan on getting rid of old electronics make through it is through a reputable source, such as a city-wide recycling day or a private processor, make sure what you’re handing over is prepared to be destroyed safely and sustainably.
Computers, laptops and tablets
When deciding to part with that old dial-up tower computer, there are a few things you need to do – mainly to protect your personal data. While it is possible to clear your hard drive or have it wiped professionally, these processes do not always guarantee full safety as hackers have ways of infiltrating these hard drives that are more advanced than we know. Clear all of your Internet browser caches to avoid any passwords or credit numbers that have been typed in. Additionally, ensure you are taking your devices to a responsible and transparent recycler.
With new smartphones being introduced every week, the amount of older phones ending up in the trash has skyrocketed. There are organizations out there where you can drop a phone into a box for it to be recycled for charity or you can take it to an e-waste recycling center. But first, you want to make sure to protect your identity – phones are little computers after all. Disconnect the device from the wireless carrier, if it is still on a plan, and then switch the phone to factory reset. This will delete all of your contacts, texts and other sensitive information.
Inkjet printers are filled with dangerous materials, including lead, mercury and other chemicals in the ink itself. Before deciding to recycle or donate your old printer, take any and all ink cartridges out of it. These must be disposed of separately – many retailers have drop-boxes and buy-back programs for the cartridges. As for the printer itself, make sure there are not any SD or other memory cards still inside to protect your personal data. Then, you can take the device to a reputable e-waste recycler or your local electronics store.
Televisions and computer monitors
Most TVs and monitors contain hazardous material, so it is important to let professionals handle these items properly. There will be no need for you to take the item apart – so don’t even try it. You could expose yourself to toxic chemicals. Ensure your local e-waste recycler can deal with the type of screen item you have – some older TVs have cathode tubes that are quite toxic. You may also be able to bring these types of devices to big box electronics dealers as they often offer buy-back or credit programs for doing so.