How to Recycle E-Waste AND MAKE MONEY! Where to Recycle Broken Tech?

Recycling just one laptop saves the energy equivalent to that used by more than 3,500 homes in the US in one year. For every 1 million cell phones recycled, we can recover roughly 35,000 pounds of copper, 772 pounds of silver, 75 pounds of gold, and 33 pounds of palladium.

Before donating, recycling, or selling, there are a few important things to remember: did I remove all my personal information? Did I remove all the batteries that might need to be recycled separately? Is this the right place to recycle this? Is this the right choice for me personally?

If your tech isn’t broken and your item works, you can sell it back on a site called Decluttr. You can sell almost anything here from cell phones and other large tech and even CDs and DVDs. You just put in the barcode (or search the item), they make an offer, and then you email your item to them. They will send you the money and you’re done! They even take care of the shipping label!

In the US, ecoATM operates kiosks throughout cities where you can drop off broken electronics or even just unwanted electronics. But, of course, if your tech still works, try to find a better home first. EcoATM purchases your unwanted tech and they even were started in order to keep tech out of the landfill by incentivizing recycling. The big appeal is the convenience. You don’t have to worry about shipping, you just have to locate a kiosk.

GreenBuyBack is another great option. You simply select the type of gadget you want to sell back and they will purchase anything from cell phones to gaming consoles and even larger appliances sometimes. After this, you get a quote. You can even sell in bulk if you contact their team. GreenBuyBack also covers any shipping costs and they will pay you by PayPal or check.

If you don’t feel comfortable settling on just one vendor, GadgetScouter is for you. They will scout anywhere from 20-30 vendors who will buy back your gadget and compare the prices for you so you can score the best deal if you are looking to score the most money and keep your tech out of the landfill. Of course, this might mean you lose some convenience like having to send a package, etc.

Of course, you can always sell tech that is still in great shape on eBay or Amazon. You can price check for what is currently selling. Sometimes they even sell broken electronics because broken tech still contains valuable things like gold and other precious metals! This means you can profit off of others’ discarded tech as well. For example, I see people throwing out perfectly good looking TVs, computers, etc on bulk trash days. If I had the time and the interest, I could pick them up and sell them to any of these sites!

Similar to that is Craigslist. You can sell perfectly good electronics here but even broken or old tech as well. Something unique about Craigslist though is that you might have to meet the buyer in person which might turn some people off. Just meet in a public place like a cafe, etc.

Facebook Marketplace is again similar to that of Craigslist. You will likely have to meet someone in person but it is a great place to get rid of old tech, broken tech, or even still in good condition tech (I feel like I just wrote a line of a Dr. Seuss book). I am a part of so many Facebook groups to include trading groups where I can trade a Notebook for a basil plant for example. Or you can sell in neighborhood pages too! Facebook groups are so diverse!

If you’re handy with technology and electronics, use your skills in this area to flip broken electronics and fix them up to sell them yourself. You could be the person to buy the broken tech to then sell the new, refurbished tech at a higher cost. I for one love buying refurbished tech as opposed to buying new tech. You can check out this video here about the importance of buying second-hand tech.

Now, here is a big list of companies that will take specific items. Here is the link to the full article by the environmental protection agency. Please read their full article for more information on each companies rules and regulations:

Another thing to try is to see if the manufacturer of your gadget has a recycling program. I know this is becoming more and more popular for a few reasons:

  1. We are understanding how harmful it is to put tech in the landfill/oceans

  2. We are understanding how valuable tech is and throwing that money into the landfill is a waste of money as well

  3. We as consumers are putting this pressure on manufactures to take responsibility

So, check with Apple or GoPro or Canon or whoever your product belongs to see if they have a take back program if none of these apply to you. It might also be hard since cameras don’t get recycled as often as cell phones and computers.

Like we learned in my first video about recycling electronics, a lot of our e-waste gets sent overseas to be handled unethically. So, if you want to be sure your tech is being handled ethically, check out e-Steward to find an ethical recycler near you. They don’t export tech to developing nations and follow other high standards like requiring protective equipment and other safety measures. They usually also reuse and refurbish electronics.

You might also be able to see if your local high school or college robotics program is in need of some extra material. They might be searching for extra wires and circuit boards and you could be the answer they are looking for. You keep your tech out of the landfill and they save some money looking for supplies!

Lastly, here are a few other places you can donate your items where you won’t make any money:

  • Dell Reconnect partners with Goodwill to accept any brand of computer as well as just about anything that can be connected to a computer. So things like keyboards, mouses, hard drives, you name it. You can drop off your items at participating Goodwills.

  • AmericanCellPhoneDrive collects all brands of used cell phones and will then refurbish and resell them or responsibly recycle them if they are too old or too broken to fix.

But what about batteries and other miscellaneous tech?

Check your local facility first, they might accept things like batteries or small gadgets not listed above. If that doesn’t work, try sites like Earth911 or Call2Recycle. Earth911 will help you locate a recycling facility near you that accepts batteries. You just simply input your zip code. Call2Recycle also does a similar thing and has a network of over 34,000 recycling centers. Unfortunately, these are only available in the US.

There are so many more options. If none of these items sat well with you, a quick Google search should do the trick. If you have something weird like a hand mixer or a blender. I suggest first trying your local facility. If that doesn’t work, try reaching out to the company itself. Finally, if that doesn’t work, try one of the brands/companies listed above. Chances are, if they will take tech of some sort, they will be happy to take your blender too. If all else fails, You can always try one of the first methods I listed such as Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, or eBay. There are so many options besides the landfill!

Thank you so much for reading along, I hope you found this helpful and it inspires you to keep your tech from going into the landfill in the future. It really is as simple as holding onto it until the right moment. I wasn't able to score any cash, but you might be lucky enough to make some money just by keeping that valuable e-waste out of the landfill; a win for you is a win for the planet is a win for the tech companies who don't have to mine new gold and new copper!

Don't forget to check out this video here explaining why buying second-hand tech is so important. In short, supporting this recycling chain shows our demand for these products and practices! And, this video here explains more about unethical concerns with e-waste recycling, so be sure to find a reputable company when it comes to recycling tech.

That's all for today, thank you so much for watching, until next time, remember that the small changes you make have a big impact in the long run :)

- Emma

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