eCycling Made Easy: Your Guide for Recycling Electronics

electronics recycling

How many electronics do you have in your household? TV’s, cell phones, computers, printers, DVD players, and video games…the list goes on. In our household we have approximately 25-30 items that can be classified as “electronics.”

And those are just the working electronics. I also have a cardboard box in the laundry room that we keep throwing batteries, broken routers, old cell phones, etc into because I know it’s not good to throw them out, but I’ve procrastinated figuring out what to do with them.

Until now.

I lucked out (and you do too) because one of the brilliant forum guys here at FatWallet, Ted Ellingson, came to me with an idea of a blog post on eCycling.

My first thought was, “Yea it’s a great idea, but how fun is it going to be researching that?” (Not so much.) My ADHD brain would be distracted from the daunting details faster than the makers of these electronic gadgets are at releasing their latest and greatest.

So when Ted volunteered to send me some information he’d dug up on electronic recycling that I could use to write a post about it, I could have hugged him. Don’t you just love teamwork at it’s best?

So here’s our collaborative attempt to untangle the confusion around eCycling. Untangling all those cords? We’ll leave that for you! :)

Why eCycling is Important to the Environment:

According to the EPA

Recycling your electronics items can, preserve our natural resources, conserve energy, and reduce pollution. But unfortunately of the more than 3.2 million tons of electronic waste that enters our landfills each year, only 25% of it gets recycled. And approximately 70% of the toxic waste in our landfills comes from electronic waste.

With updates in technology consumers are always replacing many of their old electronics. What many people fail to take into account is getting rid of your old TV or computer isn’t as simple as throwing out last weeks leftovers. 24 states have enacted legislation since 2003 placing restrictions on what can be sent to the landfill.

In Wisconsin for example, the law bans the landfilling and incineration of EEDs (eligible electronic devices), and cell phones. These bans apply no matter where the devices are from or who used them–including households, schools, businesses, governments and institutions.

Specifically, the bans include:

  • televisions;
  • computers (desktop, laptop, notebook and tablet computers);
  • desktop printers (including those that scan, fax and/or copy);
  • computer monitors;
  • other computer accessories (including keyboards, mice,
  • speakers, external hard drives and flash drives);
  • DVD players, VCRs and other video players (i.e., DVRs);
  • fax machines; and
  • cell phones.

So What Do I Do With all Those Obsolete Electronics?

Basically you have three options. You can sell it, recycle it, or donate it.

  • Check out ecosquid for information on selling, recycling or donating your electronics.
  • Here’s a list of 5 charities that accept electronic donations.
  • Your cell phone company may donate your cell phone for you.
  • Many stores will offer to recycle your old electronic when you purchase a new one.
  • Check out eBay. Many people will buy old electronics for repair parts. Just make sure you disclose in the listing that your old smart phone has lost its mind and you’re selling it for parts only.

How Much Does Electronic Recycling Cost?

Many states will charge a fee to recycle the above products and the amount varies by state. States such as California include this Electronic Waste Recycling Fee in the sale price of items.

Viewable Screen Size (Measured Diagonally) Electronic Waste Recycling Fee
Greater than 4 inches and less than 15 inches
Equal to or greater than 15 inches and less than 35 inches
35 inches and larger

Have Recycling Laws Been Passed in Your State?

To find out if your state has passed E-waste laws, check out the interactive map here at

e-waste laws

Where Can You Recycle Electronics in Your State?

Here is an interactive map with links to the e recycling centers for all 50 states presented in a sortable list.

We hope this clears up the confusion around electronic recycling for you! (Personally, I can’t wait to get rid of that heavy box of electronic junk in my laundry room!)

Happy recycling!

:-) Heather & Ted

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