How to Safely Dispose of Old Electronics

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BEACHWOOD, Ohio – For those fortunate enough to get electronics for the holidays, you’ll want to keep in mind what’s next for your old device.

Several Northeast Ohio communities offer elaborate e-waste programs, safely disposing of old electronics – for free.

E-WASTE PROGRAMS

“We’re doing right for the economy, right for the environment,” said Sale Pekarek, public service director for the City of Beachwood. “You’re keeping all of those plastics, all of those metals out of the waste stream. Nothing is getting buried.”

Last year, the City of Beachwood collected 17 tons of computers, printers and cell phones through its computer recycling program.

The effort, which is a part of Cuyahoga County’s e-waste program, saved the city hundreds of dollars.

Gadgets collected are taken to Cleveland’s RET3 Job Corps. The not-for-profit company collected 652 tons of computer equipment for the county in 2012.

“If anything can be refurbished, they take those pieces and parts, refurbish the computers, refurbish the parts, donate them free of charge to Cleveland schools,” Pekarek said. “People need to realize that what might be trash to them is really a fortune to somebody else.”

Ken Kovach, owner of RET3, said that about 50 area suburbs sent in equipment this past year. Unusable computers are broken down, so people don’t have to worry about data leftover. However, his staff was able to refurbish and donate about 2,000 computers to the Cleveland Metropolitan School District.

People interested in using the programs should contact their city’s Solid Waste District. Some cities, like Beachwood, collect continuously throughout the year, whereas others may collect a few days a year.

OTHER COUNTY E-WASTE PROGRAMS

Several counties offer free electronic recycling programs. Contact your county about events going on throughout the year.

Geauga/Trumbull County:  (330) 675-2673

Lake County:  (440) 350-2582

Lorain County:  (440) 329-5440

Medina County:  (330) 769-1273

Portage County:  (330) 678-8808

Summit County:  (330) 374-0383

RETAIL COLLECTIONS

Retailers like Best Buy will also dispose of your gadgets. The company collects nearly 387 pounds of electronics for recycling every minute stores are open.

“We recycle anything from TVs, laptops, desktops, printers, cell phones, ink, cords, cables,” said Dada London, general manager of the Best Buy in Mayfield Heights. “We wipe the hard drive on both the desktops and the laptop. In addition to that, we drill holes through that hard drive to assure that no data can be recovered from it.”

Best Buy does limit three donations per person per day. Mobile stores do not collect electronics.

DONATING CELL PHONES

If you don’t plan to sell or recycle your electronics, you may want to consider donating them. Many non-profit organizations will take things like cell phones, refurbish the devices, and then donate them to women’s shelters or to those serving in the military.

Programs like Cell Phones for Soldiers have helped provide 168 million calling minutes to active duty military members and veterans. The program started in 2004.

For more information on Cell Phones for Soldiers, click here.

OTHER EPA FRIENDLY OPTIONS

The important thing, for many, is to find a safe place for your old gadgets, outside of the landfill.

The Environmental Protection Agency says it’s important to recycle at places that will safely dispose of your electronics. Many places even offer free mail-in programs. To find a retailer nearest you, click here.