How to Recycle Large Electronics
Large electronics include all the heavy electronics we plug into power outlets. Big-screen TVs, office copiers/printers and audio receivers/amplifiers fall into the large electronics category for recycling purposes because they contain many of the same wires and computer components that are valued in the recycling market.
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Large Electronics Recycling Preparation
- If it’s possible to restore the factory settings of your electronics, this should be your first step. Most smart TVs and many printers now contain personal information that you may not want others to access. Performing a factory reset will delete that data to help protect your privacy.
- Unplug large electronics from the electronic outlet and bundle up the cord using either a twist tie or the cord itself. Tape it to the unit. This step is important to help prevent anyone carrying the heavy electronic unit from tripping while moving it.
- If your large electronic item still works, consider donating it. Reuse is a great way to reduce the ecological impact of any manufactured product. Secondhand stores will often accept used electronics in working condition. Most donation outlets will not accept cathode ray tube (CRT, or tube) televisions.
- Use a dolly to transport electronics to your car for transport to a recycler. Electronics that have a cathode ray tube (CRT) contain hazardous metals like lead and mercury. These metals are harmless during use, but potentially toxic if you drop or damage the device releasing the metals in your house.
- If you work in an office, ask your company’s IT department to schedule an electronics recycling event once a year. Many offices have lots of computers to recycle, and an waste recycler that picks up office electronics is likely to also collect consumer products like TVs at no cost.
Why Recycle Large Electronics
- In 2014, the Consumer Electronics Association conducted a survey showing 46 percent of U.S. households still have at least one CRT device even though they are now incredibly hard to find in retail stores.
- While the U.S. increased the recycling of electronic waste by more than 50 percent since 2000, we still recycle less than half of our electronics..
- Large electronics contain valuable precious metals like gold, lead and copper.
Frequent Large Electronic Recycling Questions
Don’t try to avoid the cost of recycling your electronics by throwing electronics in the garbage; that’s against the law in half of U.S. states.
If you’re recycling a printer, you can make money recycling ink and toner cartridges.
R2 (originally R2 Solutions) has been around since 2008, and focuses on certifying the recycling process, data destruction and the tracking of materials throughout the recycling process. BAN has been certifying recyclers since 2009 to ensure that no electronics are exported to non-OECD countries.
There are electronics recyclers that aren’t R2 or e-Stewards certified, but to make sure that you are recycling products responsibly, check the directories for these certified companies: R2 Recyclers and e-Stewards.
Non-working televisions and monitors must be separated from the screen components. This means a recycler will disassemble the plastic case and remove the CRT glass. Once the glass is removed, the remaining parts of large electronics are shredded into pellets and optical sorters separate plastics and valuable metals. At this point, the raw materials are sold to manufacturers for use in new products.
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- What’s Blocking CRT Recycling: A look at the ongoing challenge of recycling CRT televisions and monitors
- Why You Should Care If Your E-Cycler Is Certified: An overview of the importance of certification for electronics recyclers