If your iPhone or MacBook is still in good shape, you should consider selling it, but if it’s old or beat up you can still score a gift card by turning it into Apple’s recycling program. For iPhones, iPad and Apple Watches you’ll be asked to fill out a form attesting to the product’s condition and given a trade-in quote, with a working iPhone 5 going for $35 and an iPhone 7 Plus scoring you $315. For Macs you’ll be asked to provide a serial number as well. Though Apple won’t give you any cash for anything deemed old or unacceptable, you can still mail it in or bring it to any Apple Store so it can be responsibly disposed of.
Dell offers drop-off recycling via a partnership with Goodwill. Not every location participates, but there are over 2,000 that do. And, because it’s a charity, you may even be able to deduct it as a donation on your taxes. Dell also has a mail-back program on its site where you can generate a shipping label and drop off the package off at a FedEx location instead.
You can ship old product back to Epson by simply creating a shipping label on its site and dropping it off at a FedEx location.
If you can, HP recommends taking its products to the nearest Best Buy or Staples. But if that’s not feasible, the company participates in a program that will even buy back some items. You’ll be asked to fill out a form with the make, model and condition, and the recycler will email you a prepaid shipping label to mail the package within 30 days. If you’re doing a buyback you’ll receive a paper check in the mail. Because this isn’t an in-house program with HP, you can also send in items from other companies — check the drop down list for firms like Canon and Toshiba as well as more obscure and out-of-business manufacturers.
Many other companies use outside recyclers to dispose of their products, and you’ll often see the same names popping up again and again across different manufacturers. This should simplify things in some cases — you should be able to send in products from multiple sources in one package. You just need to fill in the make and model to generate a prepaid shipping label. However, different states have different rules on what you can return, so the drop-downs for selecting your product may vary by jurisdiction.
Two major recycling companies you’ll notice a lot are RLGA, which covers Acer, Canon, Google, Intel, Lenovo, Microsoft and Motorola, and MRM, which recycles product for Alcatel, BlackBerry, Barnes & Noble (nook), TCL and Toshiba.
Cellphones are the easiest gadget to recycle — if you haven’t already decided to sell yours off on eBay or via sites like DeCluttr, Gazelle and ecoATM. But, if you can’t or won’t make some cold, hard cash off of it, you can send it to:
Call2Recycle, which has drop-off centers all over the country in many chain stores, including Lowes and Home Depot. They’ll also accept rechargeable batteries as well.
Cell Phones for Soldiers, which accepts phones in any condition and sells them to refurbishers or recyclers. The proceeds go toward purchasing phone cards for troops so they can call their friends and family back home. To be clear, the phones are not given directly to the soldiers.
All four of the major carriers, including Verizon and T-Mobile, offer free recycling as well. You can trade in your old device in-store or send it in for a credit toward a new phone, or let them straight up recycle it. AT&T participates in Cell Phones for Soldiers, while Sprint runs the 1Million Project, which works to get disadvantaged kids devices and internet access.
If you do decide to try your luck with Gazelle or ecoATM to see if your old phone is still worth a few bucks and it turns out it’s worth nothing, you can at least rest easy knowing that both companies will recycle your phone responsibly.
There may not be a national law dictating that you must recycle your electronics, but at least 26 states have passed their own rules that vary widely on what they demand of both manufacturers and consumers. Almost all states that do collect products for recycling provide this service for free, with the bill footed by the companies in some way. Most provide some local programs to help you get rid of your stuff, regardless of whether recycling your gadgets is required or optional.
States where you can no longer dispose of electronics in the regular trash and must recycle them include: California, Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana, Maine, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Vermont, West Virginia, Wisconsin and the District of Columbia.
The following states have laws requiring manufacturers to pay for recycling, but you, the consumer, are not actually required to recycle your electronics: Hawaii, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas, Virginia, and Washington.
The following states have some special circumstances worth noting:
California: Consumers pay a small fee of $5 to $7 when they buy televisions and laptops. This is used to reimburse recyclers for the high cost of recycling these items, so you don’t get it back when you turn in these items for collection.
Connecticut: Does not allow recycling centers to charge you a fee for turning in electronics, so many organizations that would usually charge for recycling televisions and monitors do not accept them. Since you cannot dispose of them curbside, you can take them to a municipal transfer station for free.
Michigan: In addition to hosting numerous drop-off sites, Michigan will also pay for you to recycle your old gadgets by mail.
Pennsylvania: Does not allow retailers to charge you a fee to recycle, so places like Best Buy and Staples will not accept televisions or monitors. Many recycling centers have also closed as a result of underfunding. Some non-profit recyclers may still accept the items, and you should check to see if your local government is hosting any drop-off events. Lancaster and Dauphin Counties also still run civic recycling programs.
With it becoming more difficult to get rid of an old TV in Pennsylvania, with some people even resorting to illegal dumping, state senator Richard Alloway II introduced a bill last June mandating a fee on new purchases to offset the cost to recycling facilities. It’s been sitting in committee for the past year.