Tooga/Getty Images


Electronics are a big help for us while they're working, but they're a big burden on the earth when they quit working and head to the landfill as e-waste. You can help the environment and the health of people worldwide by knowing how to properly dispose of your gadgets when you're ready to upgrade.

There are three major ways to put electronics in their proper resting place or back into the consumer stream—buy-back programs, take-back programs, and recycling. We're giving you the resources you need to make a quick and easy decision about your old device when you choose to replace it.

Buy-Back Programs

A buy-back program essentially pays you for your old device. In order for you to be able to utilize this option, though, your gadget has to be usable and still have a decent amount of life in it.

Typically, you'll access a buy-back company through their online site. You'll input information about your device, such as the model, age, and condition. You'll then be offered a price for your device. If you accept the price, you are usually given a mailing label to ship the item to the company. They'll then double check that the device is in the condition you said it was in, and then cut you a check. Their next step is to refurbish and resell the device for a profit. If your device turns out to be too far past it's prime and not what you indicated online, they'll skip sending you the check and recycle it for you.

Buy-Back Programs to Try Out:










Take-Back Programs

Take-back programs are different from buy-back in that you don't get cash. You simply get to recycle your electronic device, usually for free. The programs are through major stores and manufacturers of the devices, who accept the product back, and will refurbish and resell, or recycle it. Take-back programs aren't necessarily all that robustor easily visible. But they exist with most manufacturers, and whether or not a take-back program is offered should be a question you ask of the store or manufacturer when you buy a device.

Take-Back Resources to Try Out:

Electronics TakeBack Coalition


Companies with Take-Back Programs:






HP Lenovo

Lexmark LG



Stores with Take-back Programs:



Office Depot

Radio Shack

Sam's Club


Recycling Programs

Recycling is the obvious solution for broken down electronics. However, recycling has its pitfalls to be avoided. The major concern is where your electronics actually end up. There is a growing awareness about e-waste dumps, which is when recyclers ship electronics overseas to developing countries that have no laws or regulations that account for the health and safety of the people dismantling the electronics. When recyclers don't have a way to show their accountability, your electronics might very well end up doing a whole lot of damage to the environment and people, all when you thought you were doing the right thing.

So you need to find a responsible recycler, and luckily there are organizations out there that help you.

Great Resources for Electronics Recycling:

Basil Action Network


TIA e-Cycling Central



Consumer Electronics Recycling

Eco Take Back


US Postal Service