ISSUE:  What to do with old technology

Many people purchased a new TV for last weekend’s big game.  The question now is what do you do with the old one? Or more generally, what do you do with the technology that you no longer use, doesn’t work, or is simply too old?

A recent United Nations survey reported that 44.7 million tons of electronic waste (e-waste) was discarded in 2016, and only about 20% of it was disposed of properly.  The numbers don’t get better for 2017 or 2018. While we don’t have last year’s data yet, we can safely assume that a lot of electronics are still ending up in landfills.

Most larger technology companies have programs to recycle e-waste.  Apple reported it re-captured 2,204 pounds of gold, worth about $40 million, in 2015 alone.


There are many ways to easily recycle electronics, and there are a number of programs nationwide.  One such program is – you can go to their website and enter your zip code to find what is nearby.

In many places larger electronic stores will recycle e-waste.  Most Best Buys have recycling programs. Although there are usually limits to how many items you can recycle in one trip.  Also, most are free to recycle but if you have something like a CRT television, there may be a cost. Please check with your favorite retailer to find details.

Items like used print cartridges and toner drums can be recycled at stores like Office Depot or Staples.  Again there are some limitations which they will be happy to provide.

If your device is still working you might consider donating it to a charity or reselling on a service like eBay.

Whatever you decide to do with your old electronics it is very important to remove any personal data from the device before handing it over.   Even if the device no longer works it is possible that someone could reuse the storage, for example a hard drive or memory, which may contain personal data.  If a computer is completely non-functional, it is advised to remove and destroy the hard drive before recycling the rest. Never removed a hard drive? Check out this article on WikiHow for details:

William (Bill) Sikkens has been an on-air technology expert since 2014. With an expertise in I.T., cyber security and software design he has had more than 20 years’ experience with advanced technology. Sikkens conceptualizes and designs custom applications for many professional industries from health care to banking and has the ability to explain the details in a way all can understand.  Article edited by Gretchen Winkler, who along with Jeremy Winkler are the co-hosts of User Friendly 2.0 here on The Answer Saturday’s at 5:00 p.m.

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Got a technology question or comment for Bill? Follow him on Twitter @sikkensw