A growing number of consumers are aware that electronic waste, or e-waste, is a dangerous substance which needs to be disposed of with care. E-waste includes things like computing equipment, televisions, cell phones, and other electronic equipment. Many consumers find it cheaper to buy new than to upgrade, and often find themselves getting rid of perfectly good equipment, while others are discarding truly broken or useless electronics.
If the equipment you are trying to dispose of is still truly useful, consider donation. Electronics should be donated with care, however. A computer that still “technically" works may not be usable to anyone, and you should dispose of it properly rather than passing it on to someone else. Electronics labs at schools are often happy to accept old equipment, but make sure it is wanted first. Computers and cell phones that are still in good working order can sometimes be donated to programs which refurbish them and pass them on to people in need such as victims of domestic violence and people in third world countries. Before donating to such a program, make sure that they are actually passing on working electronics, not just dumping e-waste.
If your e-waste is well and truly waste, there are a two primary options for disposal, depending on what it is. The most important thing to remember when dealing with e-waste is that you want to make sure that it is going to a company that is capable of handling e-waste. Do not be afraid to ask for credentials from a company which agrees to accept e-waste, especially if the cost for disposal is low. Companies that volunteer to take your equipment, for example, are probably not going to handle it in an environmentally sound way.
The best way to dispose of e-waste is at your local e-waste handling facility. If you live in an urban area, the Department of Sanitation can connect you with information about recycling e-waste locally. If you live in a rural area, many companies have mobile services which set up a collection center in a central location one day a month. The company which handles your waste, or the local dump, can notify you about when a hazardous materials collection is happening in your area. This is also an opportunity to get rid of batteries, solvents, paint, and other hazardous substances.
In some cases, the company which manufactured the equipment will take it back. If your equipment is over a certain age, you will have to pay a fee for collection and disposal, but it is well worth it to ensure that your e-waste is being handled properly, and that the usable parts will be recycled into new equipment. If you paid an e-waste processing fee when you purchased your equipment, as is mandated in some areas, the company that manufactured it is obligated to take it back and properly dispose of it.