September 21, 2021

How To Dispose Old Electronics Responsibly

In this digitally driven world, the need for electronics is all but inevitable. It even comes to a point where people, like you, can no longer imagine life without their existence. However, just like other items, electronic devices can only last for so long. When you decide to replace them with brand-new models, or they’ve already reached the end of service life, they’ll have to go.

Sadly, these devices are more likely to end up in landfills where the toxic materials in them can seep deep into the earth and affect the environment. Typically, most electronics contain substances like cadmium, lead, and mercury, all of which are dangerous in their own right.

Because of this, you should practice the safe and responsible disposal of electronic devices. Read this guide to learn about some ideal ways to do so.

1. Erase All Personal Data

It’s most likely that your old device houses a lot of personal data: contact details, passwords, etc. When you decide to dispose of it, put your privacy first by wiping all your data from the device clean. In the event that it ends up in unwanted hands, they won’t be able to retrieve anything of value from it.

The process depends on the type of device or operating system. Below are some examples:

  • For Android phones, make sure to encrypt the data before performing a factory reset. Once done, take out the SIM card and use an app to remove what data’s left.
  • For iPhones, remove the SIM card and select Erase All Content in the Settings menu.
  • For Windows computers, back up any files you still need on external storage first. Then, do a factory reset and install a disk-wipe program.
  • For MacBook, the same process for Windows PCs applies. The only difference is that it has a built-in disk utility (third-party programs can still work). (3)

Once the device is entirely devoid of all personal data, you have two options. You can recycle your Mac or any other device through a certified service provider or donate it to someone or a local organization. Both benefit the environment and society, though the right choice depends on the device’s condition.

2. Hand It Over For Recycling

For electronic devices that are no longer working, recycling can be an effective way of disposing of them. The majority of the raw materials used in manufacturing electronic devices are recoverable and reusable, making recycling a good disposal option. For example, Apple’s 13-inch MacBook Air with Retina is made with 40% recycled material, reducing its e-waste footprint. (1)

There are two ways in which you can have the device undergo recycling:

  • Recycling Center – Check with your local government if there are designated recycling facilities in your area. It can either be government-sanctioned or through a third-party service provider.
  • Return to Manufacturer – Many companies accept old devices through drop-off sites. Once in their possession, they can strip the device of their materials to be recycled to produce newer devices. (2)

3. Donate To A Good Cause

If your old electronics are still in good working condition, you can donate them to charity or any good cause. Whether they end up selling it or use it themselves, your device will be doing them a favor. Below are some ideal beneficiaries:

  • Local schools: Many schools lack the budget to buy electronics for students with limited access to technology at home. So you can donate your old devices, such as your tablets, laptops, or mobile phones, to help with the students’ studies.
  • Non-profit groups: Some organizations serve as relays for distributing donated gadgets to charities and other good causes. Check with these entities to know the type of devices you can put up for donation. (4)

Whether you decide to go down the recycling or donation route, these options are a big win for Mother Nature. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, recycling a million laptops can save as much energy as 3,500 American homes use in one year. It’s also a major source of metals that otherwise would have to be mined. (5)

Bottom Line

With more people buying, electronics have contributed to a massive waste stream around the world. Not to mention the fact that improper electronic disposal by individuals can cause harm to the environment. Therefore, if you want to do the right thing by being responsible in doing away with these devices, keep these ways in mind.

Remember, having safe, eco-friendly, and responsible waste management solutions for your old electronics can go a long way in preserving the environment and making the world a better place.


  1. “How to Recycle Old Electronics,” Source:
  2. “How to Recycle Electronics Responsibly: A Beginner’s Guide,” Source:
  3. “How to get rid of your unwanted electronic devices safely and responsibly,” Source:
  4. How to Dispose of Electronics,” Source: “Electronics Donation and Recycling,”

About the author 

Peter Hatch

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