Your Guide to Holiday Gadget Recycling

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Right now is one of the busiest times of year for purchasing of new electronics and computers.  According to the Consumer Electronics Association’s annual CE Holiday Purchase Patterns Study, this year’s electronics gift giving will reach an all-time high, accounting for one-third of all holiday gift spending.

Computers are consistently at the top of wish lists across the country.

SEE: Gifts for the Techie 

Many consumers don’t have plan to dispose of old computers and accessories when they get a new one, but that’s the perfect time to recycle. If you don’t take the action right away, the old computer will likely get stored and take up space in your home.  According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, five million short tons of electronic products were in storage in 2009.

READ: How to Green Your Computer Shopping

Taking the time to properly dispose of your old computer when you get a new one will reduce clutter in your home, help the environment and, if you recycle through the Dell Reconnect program, create jobs and benefit your local community. The added bonus: if you donate before year’s end, you can get tax write-off opportunities for your 2010 taxes.

Here are some quick tips for recycling electronics:


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When it comes to recycling your computer, it’s important to save all of your important files and then wipe the hard drive of your personal data before you recycle it.

Once you’ve done this, all you need to do is find a recycling location. Often, the retailer where you bought the computer or manufacturer that made it will take it back free of charge.

You can also take advantage of the Dell and Goodwill partnership called Reconnect. Find a Goodwill closest to you with a program, drop off your computer, even if it’s not a Dell, and they’ll do the rest to responsibly recycle your computer. The proceeds from your donation all go to Goodwill’s main mission, to help people in your community get jobs. It also keeps the computer out of the landfill, which benefits the environment.

READ: How to Recycle Your Old Computer 


Laptops aren’t much different from computers when it comes to recycling, because they are made of much the same materials. Some materials are valuable for second use, like many of the metals and plastics, but some materials are harmful to the humans and the environment. That’s why recycling them is so important.

Follow the same steps of removing important files for use on your new laptop and deleting personal information. Then, your laptop will be ready for recycling.

Because laptops are made from essentially the same materials as larger desktop computers, you’ll have the same recycling options. Take advantage of the retailer or manufacturer take-back program, or use Dell Reconnect. The program does accept laptops from any manufacturer.


Photo: Apple, Inc.

Tablets are neither computers or laptops, but a powerful hybrid of sorts. They are made up of many of the same materials, but they aren’t yet recycled as part of many computer-specific programs like Dell Reconnect.

Still, if you’re looking to retire a tablet for a newer model, try the manufacturer or retailer where you bought it. They will more than likely accept the tablet for recycling.

Find your local recycle solution for computer

For Apple products, including iPads, you should always return the product to Apple. It depends on which product you’re recycling, but you’ll either have to take it back to the  retail store or send it via the mail. Learn more about the Apple Recycling Program here.


You might not know it, but most computer recycling programs, even the Dell Reconnect program, will also accept accessories like keyboards, mice and cords. Make sure to ask whichever program you choose about accessory recycling before you haul it all.

So if your new computer comes with a keyboard and mouse, remember you can recycle the old ones when you recycle your old computer.

Editor’s Note: Earth911 partners with many industries, manufacturers and organizations to support its Recycling Directory, the largest in the nation, which is provided to consumers at no cost. Dell is one of these partners.

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