Out with the old, in with the new: where should old electronics go?

pile of electronics to be recycled.

By: Andy Dawson

Each year, Americans throw away 9.4 million tons of electronics! Much of that waste turns up during, and immediately following, the holiday season. Out with the old, in with the new, right?

Electronics don’t seem to last long these days, especially when a new phone with a better camera and newer technology is released every six months. The EPA estimates that 350,000 phones are thrown out each day! Old electronics don’t belong in the trash can. If not disposed of properly, these items can be dangerous. Many contain lithium batteries, which are fragile and can start fires when tossed around in a trash or recycling truck. In addition, most electronics contain toxic chemicals which can seep into our groundwater if placed in the landfill. So, what are the reuse and disposal options for these items?

In Austin, the Recycle & Reuse Drop-off Center accepts most kinds of electronics for recycling. In addition to mobile phones, vacuum cleaners, microwaves, battery backups, televisions and even clothes washers and dryers are accepted here, six days a week, free of charge to Austin residents. More than 539 tons of electronics were collected and recycled at the Drop-off Center in 2019.

Remember, the best practice in the name of Zero Waste is always to use the item for as long as you can. If it’s still in working order but no longer of use to you, donate it. If it doesn't work, drop it off to be recycled.