Earth Day 2016: Today’s the Day To Recycle Old Gadgets

As we commemorate the 47th annual Earth Day, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has a message for individuals or businesses thinking about throwing old electronic equipment and gadgets in the trash: Don?EU?t. The agency, along with many other public and private organizations, is encouraging people to find ways to re-use or recycle the electronic machines and devices that seem to be produced by the millions each day.

The agency estimated that every 1 million recycled mobile devices can potentially yield 35,000 pounds of copper, 772 pounds of silver, 75 pounds of gold and 33 pounds of palladium. One million recycled laptops can save the same amount of electricity that's used by 3,500 U.S. homes in a year, according to the EPA.

The EPA defines four stages in the lifecycle of an electronic device: raw materials acquisition and manufacturing; purchase and use, including use by the original purchaser and, ideally, use by a second or even third owner; storage once the product has outlived its usefulness; and end-of-life management, when products are either collected for recycle or re-use, or disposal if the device or its parts are no longer useful in any way.

Wipe Data from Devices

Sustainable management of electronic devices comes in three forms: preventing waste in the first place, which is superior to any other waste management option, including recycling; recycling if donation for reuse or repair is not a viable option; and getting into the habit of buying new equipment that has been designed with environmentally preferable parts and techniques.

Before recycling any electronics -- especially those that might contain confidential personal or business information -- wipe them clean of data. The best way to get rid of data on a computer is by physically destroying the device?EU?s hard drive. On an old cell phone, first do a factory reset, then...

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