If you have an old or broken laptop, phone, or tablet, you might be wondering how to properly dispose of it. Does Goodwill recycle electronics?
If your old device is still working, Goodwill resells it at one of their stores. In addition, many Goodwill organizations across the country partner with e-cycling programs to properly dispose of e-waste. Goodwill is committed to environmental sustainability and reduction of e-waste.
Wondering what e-waste is? In the rest of this article, I will discuss e-waste, and how Goodwill makes it easy to recycle.
Table of Contents
Why Should I Care Where My E-Waste Goes?
E-waste is short for electronic waste. It’s what happens when old or broken electronics are put into landfills or otherwise improperly discarded. Right now, it’s one of the most destructive types of waste in the world.
You might think that when you throw away your old television, computer monitor, or phone, it’s no longer your problem. That couldn’t be further from the truth.
Improper electronics disposal releases toxic metals and chemicals into the air, soil, and groundwater. Not only does this impact surrounding ecosystems, but it also has a negative effect on human life.
This table goes into some of the toxic compounds in old electronics and the effects they can have:
|Cadmium||water and soil contamination, particles in fish and other animals||kidney damage, fragile bones, abdominal pain, death|
|Lead||water, air, and soil contamination, decreased growth in plants and animals, neurological effects in some animals||neurological problems, premature birth and slower growth in newborns, miscarriage or stillbirth|
|Mercury||accumulation in water and disposed sediments, incorporation into the food chain, water acidification||neurological damage, developmental disorders in infants and children, reproductive issues|
|Barium||accumulation in water, particles present in animals, and microorganisms in water, which then enters the food chain||gastrointestinal symptoms, paralysis in severe toxicity cases|
|Lithium||soil and air accumulation, death of fish and other animals in lithium mining communities||severe nausea, hand tremors, confusion, vision changes, unsteady standing or walking|
|Polybrominated Flame Retardants||water, soil, and sediment accumulation||thyroid disruption, learning issues, advanced puberty, reduced fertility|
The environmental damage from these metals and compounds can take years to reverse. Sometimes, the damage is completely irreversible.
How Does E-Waste Recycling Work?
Instead of putting these hazardous materials into a landfill, e-waste recycling centers break your electronics down into usable parts.
This re-circulates material from devices that would otherwise accumulate and pollute surrounding ecosystems. Recycling recovers lithium, plastic, glass, aluminum, and more metals and materials.
Recycling centers break down devices through both shredding and magnetic processes. Magnetic processing helps extract important metals from your e-waste.
E-Waste recycling isn’t free of risk. You’ll want to make sure your device is going to a reputable recycling center. Otherwise, those harmful compounds may still end up as pollution.
What Can I Do to Reduce My E-Waste?
Instead of throwing your old electronics away, you can research how to recycle them in your area.
Depending on where you live, there may be one or a number of recycling centers and companies which will take your old electronics.
Many run local drop boxes, where you can simply drop off your e-waste. Other localities may have a mail-in program, or do free curb pickups.
Among international corporations, Best Buy lets you drop off your electronics for free at any store, and offers a gift card in exchange for any devices that might still have value.
They’ll then send your old devices to a recycling center.
You now know you have options, but you might still be wondering if your local Goodwill store recycles its e-waste.
Some Goodwill Departments That Recycle Electronics
This is a list of some Goodwills across the country which have ways to recycle your old and unusable electronics.
Pay attention to their events calendars, as many also run donation and electronic recycling drives around Earth Day.
Goodwill of South Central Wisconsin
Goodwill SCWI partners with computer recycling program Dell Reconnect. If they can’t resell your computer equipment as-is, they’ll send it to Dell’s e-cycling program.
From there, any usable material from your device or cord gets incorporated into new Dell computers and equipment.
You can donate any of this computer equipment at an attended Goodwill South Central Wisconsin donation center:
- Desktop or Laptop Computers
- Hard Drives
- Wired or Wireless Keyboards
- Wired or Wireless Mice
- Laser or Inkjet Printers
- Ink and Toner Cartridges
- Cords and Cables
- Software (Goodwill SCWI requests you include the license key with any software donation)
Keep in mind you’re responsible for deleting or backing up sensitive data on your hard drives before donation.
Goodwill of San Francisco, San Mateo, and Marin County, CA
Goodwill stores in these locations do accept consumer electronics for resale or recycling. They primarily recycle computers, and train people in environmentally sustainable practices, through their ReCompute program.
However, they do not accept printer or toner cartridges, batteries, or lightbulbs. Goodwill recommends you take any of these items to your local recycling center.
Their “Items We Cannot Accept” page does list organizations in your area which will accept these forms of e-waste.
Goodbytes by Goodwill, Omaha, NE
Like Goodwill of South Central Wisconsin, Goodwill Omaha also partners with Dell Reconnect to recycle computer waste. They also run a store devoted primarily to refurbished and resale electronics in Omaha called Goodbytes.
If you’re looking for a gently used computer monitor or game console, Goodbytes might just be the place!
Goodwill Central Texas
The state of Texas has authorized Goodwill Central Texas as a collector of electronic waste. Thanks to their e-waste recycling program, they claim to divert more than 285 tons of electronic waste each month!
They also help larger businesses with their recycling and green efforts through their Austin Goodwill Resource Center.
Goodwill of Northern New England
Goodwill NNE also partners with Dell Reconnect to recycle computers and other electronics. Through their GoodTech program, they also refurbish usable computers for resale. Though they wipe data to U.S. Department of Defense standards, they still recommend you back up or wipe any important data before donating.
Goodwill NNE takes electronics in any condition. They also accept business donations of old devices and technology.
Goodwill Industries of Southeastern Wisconsin and Metropolitan Chicago
You can donate your old computer, gaming system, tablet, or phone directly to any Goodwill donation center in Southeastern Wisconsin and Chicago to get it into their e-cycling system.
Still unsure if the Goodwill in your area accepts or recycles electronics? Call or check your local Goodwill organization’s website for more information about accepted donations. Even if they don’t accept old electronics, they often list organizations in your area that will.
Tips on Donating or Recycling Electronics
Before recycling your old device, you’ll want to remove the battery. It’s possible the battery needs to be recycled separately from the rest of the device.
Check and make sure your Goodwill or recycling center accepts the device you want to donate.
Make sure to delete all personal information from a computer, tablet, or phone before donating. You don’t want sensitive information in the hands of someone who buys your refurbished computer. Plus, it makes it easier for a new owner to put their own data in their new hard drive.
Electronic waste is a growing, global problem. Recycling your old devices, cords, batteries, and cartridges keeps them out of landfills.
It also keeps the toxic materials in electronics out of your soil, water, and air. Electronic recycling also reincorporates reusable materials into other devices and contexts, reducing the need for dangerous mining.
You can donate your old devices at many Goodwill stores. Many Goodwill organizations partner with services that will recycle your e-waste.
Others can recycle or refurbish your device themselves. Check with your local Goodwill today and see if they’ll recycle your electronics.
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