The CEA may be claiming a green CES this year, but in reality, there’s very little that’s green about the consumer electronics industry. From manufacturing, to transport, to consumer use, gadgets are less than wonderful for the environment. So what’s a gadget-head to do? Well at the very least we can recycle our old devices. I certainly got my share of electronics for Christmas, and no doubt it will be time to retire some of the other gadgets in my house in the near future. Here are some of the recycling options available.
If you have a gadget that’s still in good shape, consider giving it away to someone who could use the hand-me-down. Freecycle is a Craigslist-type service, except you sign up just for your local region and it’s all free trade. You can list things you want and things you have to give away. Upgrading your laptop? Or your TV? Give away your old one on freecycle.
Corporate Recycling Programs
Several large CE companies have buy-back and recycling programs now, including Apple, Best Buy and Motorola (my employer). The CEA site My Green Electronics lists what different companies collect along with links to more information. (Best Buy collects toner cartridges and rechargeable batteries among other items.)
Recycling Collection Sites
Not recycling a product from a company with a specific recycling program? There are a couple of sites online that let you plug in your zip code to find a recycling collection center. The My Green Electronics site has this feature, as does Earth 911. Unfortunately, you may find that the closest center isn’t that close, or that you have to wait for a recycling event at a particular time of year. If that’s the case, bag your old gadgets up, mark the day on your calendar and plan one trip to drop everything off.
Cell Phone Options
More and more cell phone recycling options are popping up. A recent post on Planet Green lists five novel recycling alternatives including trading cell phones in for carbon offsets and donating cell phones that can be exchanged for prepaid calling cards for soldiers abroad.
Two more details. First, keep in mind that the digital TV transition in just over a year is going to lead to a lot more old TVs getting thrown out. Spread the word about what to do with those old sets. Second, if you’re into the green gadgets thing, consider checking out the Greener Gadgets Conference coming on February 1st in New York City. Ryan Block from Engadget and Katie Fehrenbacher from Earth2Tech will both be there, along with many others.