How to Recycle Old Technology

English: A spiral CFL bulb on a white background (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Everyone should recycle. Not because some environmentalist says so, but because it’s just a responsible use of resources. If something can be reused or broken down and rebuilt into something useful again without consuming new resources, it means less trash building up and more resources available for the future.

But not everything is as easy to dispose of as plastic, cans and paper. And some things shouldn’t be thrown away because they may be harmful to the environment or are still usable. This often applies to technology. Old tech often needs to be recycled or disposed of in certain ways. Here is how to dispose of or recycle some common pieces of technology.

Cell phones

New blackberry phones are great. They offer so many wonderful features and can replace most any phone on the market. But what should be done with the old cell that the blackberry is replacing? Like all the technology in this article, cell phones really shouldn’t be thrown into a trash can. They contain plastics and metals that shouldn’t be incinerated or left to accumulate in landfills.

The EPA has a program called “Plug-In to eCycling” through which people can dispose of their old phones. The program either recycles them or donates them to community organizations who distribute them to people who can still use them.

Compact fluorescent light bulbs

CFL bulbs use less energy than standard incandescents and can reduce energy costs. Disposing of CFLs can be tricky though. They contain a small amount of mercury, which is harmful. If CFLs are thrown away then there will be a small but cumulative amount of mercury in landfills.

CFLs should be taken to recycling centers. The materials of the bulb can be recycled and used again. The EPA recommends using to find local disposal sites.

Also, in the event a CFL bulb breaks and leaks its mercury, the EPA provides clean-up instructions.

Televisions / Computers

Computer monitors and televisions, both LCD and CRT, need to be disposed of correctly. Both may contain hazardous materials. Broken or burnt-out televisions or monitors should be taken to a recycling center (check for locations). The EPA’s Plug-In To eCycling program also takes televisions and computers.

If the TV or computer still works, consider donating it to a charity. But, also consider using a disk drive cleaner to remove any potentially sensitive information from the hard drive.

Household appliances

Refrigerators and air conditioning units both contain many materials that are harmful to the environment (like oils, mercury, fluorocarbons, foams, metals, etc.). Many of the materials in these appliances are reusable, and some utility companies offer appliance recycling programs. Or, once more, provides local disposal sites for large and small appliances.

Recycling may take some extra effort, but it’s not difficult. It is said that the earth is not ours, and that we borrow it from the next generation. If that is the case, we should try to recycle and dispose of things correctly so we don’t leave them with a mess.


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