Maybe you got a holiday tech upgrade with a new phone or laptop. But what you do with old devices matters.
A United Nations report in 2017 sounded the alarm on the waste associated with technology, with 45 million tons of e-waste tossed in 2016 — and only about 20% was recycled.
If all the valuable metals were collected from those electronics, it would be worth $55 billion.
“This problem is burgeoning, it’s getting bigger and bigger,” says Steven Dege with TerraCycle, a company that specializes in hard-to-recycle materials. “And as our population grows, it’s continuing to get bigger and bigger, and if we don’t tackle it or start to develop means or ways to recycle these items, it’s going to become a massive, massive issue later on.”
Dege recommends you find a local electronics recycle location.
Consumer Reports says you can also donate your old device to a charity or nonprofit.
Dell and Goodwill have a partnership that allows you to drop off your old technology at some Goodwill locations.
Apple and Amazon may give you a credit or gift card for old electronics.
Sprint buys phones from any carrier.
Best Buy also has a number of recycling options.
But before you do any of that, make sure you protect your data first.
“The No. 1 thing that everybody should do is wipe your information off the phone, off your computers, laptops, things of that nature,” Dege says. “You don’t want that information to get anywhere, to go anywhere, other than yourself.”
Your best bet on making sure you properly wipe a device is finding a YouTube instructional video specific to that brand and model.