This post was originally published in the October 6, 2016 edition of the Southwest Journal, a Southwest Minneapolis community newspaper.
It is fun to get new electronics — or toys, as I like to call them.
I enjoying setting them up and always keep my packaging and boxes for a few months just in case I need to return something. I always recommend that clients keep their boxes too. So now that there is new equipment, what do you do with old electronics?
I get asked this question all of the time. If it is a printer or a home theater system, I often take the devices with me and see if I can find a new home for them. However, outdated computers and monitors are not so easy to find homes for.
Luckily, there are options out there to recycle your old electronics. According to recycling center Tech Dump, “The EPA estimates that there are 200 million recyclable cell phones stashed in drawers that could be recycled. Recycling those phones would recapture precious metals and rare earth elements for reuse and mitigate the environmental impact of our cell phone addiction!”
While there are quite a few options out there, most charge a recycling fee, so you want to look out for that when choosing where to recycle your electronics. Below are a few options to consider. Please do not just throw electronics out in the trash, as there are harmful components within them that can be bad for the environment. Also, in some of the cases below, there may be an ability to extend the life of your electronics.
To start, the City of Minneapolis allows electronics to be included in solid waste, and there is no charge for up to two items per recycling day. Items are left out on your curb or in your alley and are marked by trash collectors for later pickup. Items include TVs and monitors, which other places charge fees to recycle. Check out the city’s website (ci.minneapolis. mn.us/solid-waste/whattodo/electronics-recycling) for more info on which specific electronics can be recycled.
Tech Dump takes your electronics “and they turn unwanted electronics into jobs for folks with barriers to employment such as previous addiction or experience in the justice system,” according to their website. Computer recycling is free, and they guarantee that all of your data on the recycled computer is destroyed. There is a charge for TVs, monitors and printers, so check out their website before just heading over to them. They have even started a spin-off business, Tech Discounts, where you can buy refurbished electronics or have your electronics fixed (including cell phone screens). You can learn more and see all of the electronics that they accept at techdump.org/electronics-recycling/.
Free Geek is a nonprofit that trains people on how to repair electronics. The Free Geek website notes they “use these materials to build new computers when we can, or recycle the materials responsibly.” They ask for financial donations, as well, so that can afford to recycle the items that cost money. And they charge fees for recycling TVs, monitors and printers. More info on Free Geek can be found at freegeektwincities.org/about/donations/.
A great resource for recycling is Best Buy. They accept almost everything but ask that you limit it to three devices per day. Additionally, they also charge for TVs and monitors, but that appears to be their only recycling fee. You can find out more about Best Buy’s recycling program at bestbuy.com (just type “recycling” into the search bar).
There you have it — a good start on resources for recycling your electronics. Now, on to the fun part: Buying new electronics!
Paul Burnstein is a Tech Handyman. As the founder of Gadget Guy MN, Paul helps personal and business clients optimize their use of technology. He can be found through www.gadgetguymn.com or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.