Recycling Electronics – Are you There?

What do you do when your camcorder, computer, tablet or other device is no longer useful to you, but still has use in its electronics? Do you sell it? Donate it? Save it for historical laughs or throw it in a landfill?

April 22 marks the 43rd annual Earth Day observance  – and as people become aware of recycling ordinary garbage, there's still a long ways to go with disposing of electronic waste. In April 2011 an e-cycling initiative was launched by leaders in the consumer electronics industry to deal with the millions of pounds of electronic waste rendered annually. The hopes are to have one billion pounds of electronic waste recycled annually by 2016
How you Can Help and Benefit, Too
If your electronic gadget still has life in it; consider other places you might help someone else in need who hasn't the means or abilities to purchase a new device. 
Computers: Donate your old computer to "computers for classrooms" to help kids who don't have access to computers in your area. 
Mobile Phones: From CellPhonesforSoldiers to emergency 911 phones for elderly and shut-ins, they might be obsolete to you, but valuable to someone in need.
Televisions: A local school, retirement home or community center might gladly like to upgrade their older set for a not-as-old set. 
Camcorders: If you have an old camcorder that runs but has out-lived your needs gathering dust in a closet, there are a number of places you donate it to that would benefit greatly from your generosity. That old camcorder you no longer want but still has use can find a new life in the hands of your local charity, theater group or school. How many people claim to have been "bitten by the movie creating bug" using their dad's old Super 8 camera? A not-too-old camcorder can trigger a child's interest in video producing. 
Recycling Responsibly 
From CDs to PCs, printers to monitors and more, Green Disk takes your "technotrash" had responsibly disposes of what can't be recycled. 
Giving it Away for Cash or Credit: There are several companies what will buy your older gadget, some for cash-out, others for rebate on a new product from their company. Kodak has a mail-in program for old digital cameras and printers, Best Buy has a trade-in program. HP has a few choices from cash for you to a charity donation or an HP gift card for a new purchase. 
Selling it: Depending on the age of your device you can sell it outright to sites like, NetWorth and Recyclebank. Of course, you might get more the old fashioned way – on eBay – but like putting a sign on your car in a parking lot hoping for a nibble versus selling it to a used-car broker, these sites pay for your device then resell it, so they need a profit margin, too. A quick search on eBay found 50 used Sony miniDV selling for $40.00 and a Sony VX2100 going for $300. There were others of this model (my old camcorder, thus the interest,) listed up to $1500 but no offers at the time I searched.
Recycle it: Not all electronic waste is recyclable, but most areas in the U.S. with a waste disposal facility has an e-waste site, too. Check out to find a recycling center or drop-off place near you. When in doubt, the first place to look can be as easy as your old fashioned Yellow Pages. Most local government listings will have some sort of service for electronic waste recycling, they can point you in the right direction.
Helping People in Developing Countries: CloseTheGap takes used/refurbished computers to people in emerging nations struggling to get caught up in the modern world. And if you're feeling beneficent, please check out Videomaker's founder and CEO Matthew York's One Media Player per Teacher inititive. OMPT helps to get media players and curriculum into the hands of educators in the poorest of the world's areas where they don't even have access to electricity on a regular basis. OMPT offers people the chance to learn about better crop control, food preparation, hygiene and the rules and laws of their own government. 
Trash it Responsibily: Best Buy, Staples, Office Depot and a few other consumer electronic retailers will take old televisions, computer monitors, printers, computers, ink-jet cartridges and more at no charge to you. 
What can you do with Videotape?
Recycling video gear isn't just about the electronics. You can recycle video tape, too. One-sixth of a gallon of petroleum goes into the production of one videocassette, and as of 2008, video duplication companies processed 20 million of them per month. Although videotape production has gone down, there's a lot of tape still in use, or going to waste sites.
Thrift stores: Yep – people still use videotape, but be forewarned, blacking your old footage is a good idea, before you donate tape. 
Make Scarecrows: Many farmers know this trick – Snip the tape and unravel it then hang bits and pieces around the garden. The fluttering, shiny tape will scare birds away.
Make art: Yep. Check out this a tutorial on crochetting a sling bag using video tape.
ACT (Alternative Community Training). ACT is a non-profit organization which specializes in recycling older video tapes and you can help a worthy cause. The organization recycles donated videotapes, disassemble the cassettes, degausses the tape, then resells them to the public. 
Too Old to Reuse: For a home movies, and other recorded tapes not fit for resale, there's E-Cycle Environmental and WeBuyUsedTape buys some (not all) types of used video and might pay for the shipping costs. 
Jim Gibilterra, of Media Distributors says the 2011 tsunami in Japan put their business in crisis mode when a good portion of the world's supply of professional video-tape was no longer available. Since then, they've looked into how they can help lessen the impact recording media on our environment. They mostly deal with high-end tape for broadcast and that the product is now back in production with everything back to normal, but it  triggered interest. They sell evaluated media or buy it back then totally degauss it, run it through evaluators to verify no defects, then resell. This re-supplied tape is good for non-critical users, schools, giveaways. Media Distributors also does certified destruction that doesn't hurt the environment, as part of their ‘Green Partners Program’. To learn more about how their efforts lessen the impact of media on the environment, go to
[image:blog_post:32297]When Recycling e-waste Doesn't Work
Not all recycling is good for the environment. According to a report from Electronics Take Back Coalition, caustic gas sits inside old cathode ray tube [CRT] TVs and older computer monitors, and that approximately 860 million pounds of CRT glass has been stockpiled by recyclers who have just left the TVs or monitors sitting around in huge electronic graveyards.
Some recyclers' solution to the U.S. e-waste problem is to ship it overseas. the EPA [Environmental Protection Agency] said that this Billion Pounds Challenge shouldn't move our problem into someone else's backyard by exporting unsafe e-waste to third world countries with a need but no environmental protection. 
Did you get (or give) any new electronics this past holiday season? I'll bet nearly anyone who was in the gift-giving mode got or gave at least one electronic gadget as a gift, but what happens to the gadget you're replacing? Getting rid of the old to bring in the new is becoming a big issue; hopefully a few of these sites posted today will help you think how you can participate in e-waste recycling.
Jennifer O'Rourke
Jennifer O'Rourke
Jennifer O’Rourke is an Emmy award-winning videographer & editor.

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