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E-Waste Programs vs. Recycling: Which is better for you?

Updated on May 9, 2013

E-Waste Programs

With everyone striving to be greener and more aware of what they throw out, there has been a need for electronics waste disposal programs but what are they all about?

The E-waste programs are all based on the same concept: take in broken and unwanted electronics and make a major profit processing them while disposing of the components in a safe manner. This means that any person or consumer can take in most household electronics and drop them off for free at many different businesses and companies. Sounds nice, right?

The rules, however, aren't as cut and dry as we would like. There are strict guidelines you must follow to drop of many electronics. All electronics must be whole (no dismantled or crushed items), many places will only take in one or two printers at a time before they charge you (average charge for printer disposal is $5) and game consoles and many appliance type items are not accepted.

Once you have dropped off acceptable items at an e-waste participating company the items are boxed up and shipped out to a processing plant. Most of the items will be broken down or dismantled and the components will be removed. The components have valuable metals in them and are further processed down to make a huge profit.

Recycling your electronics

If you want to get the most out of your old electronics you can process them down and recycle them yourself, this means work. All electronics have valuable components that make them work from the power cord, circuit boards, power supplies and even the steal or aluminum casings.With counter top appliances you will also have motors.

By taking the time to process down your electronics and small appliances yourself you can make some money while helping the environment. However, you will have some waste that you will still need to throw out like any extra plastic, unless there is a local business that will take the plastic for free. It does take time! To get the best return you will need to cut cables, unwind copper, remove plastic, steel and aluminum, and separate out all the components.

If you only have one item, in my opinion and experience, processing it yourself is not worth it. The more weight you have in circuit boards and cables and more money you will walk away with.If you don't have much but don't want to go to an e-waste participating business you can process down your electronics and put the components in boxes. This way you can add to your boxes as time goes by and once they are full take them into your local recycling center.

Which is better for you?

Here is the tough part. You need to figure out how many items you have, how much time you can spend dismantling them and if it is profitable for you. Money is money, we all know that but it comes down to knowing if you need the money you could make or if the money is worth it to you personally.

If you work a full time job and don't want to spend your days off taking apart things, then no recycling components yourself is not worth it. However, if you are a stay at home parent, retired, or working part time and could use or just want some extra money then this could be a great way to earn a little extra and give yourself a hobby.


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    • heidithorne profile image

      Heidi Thorne 5 years ago from Chicago Area

      I would probably never try to recycle by taking apart old e-waste. That's wasting another valuable resource: time. As well, many old electronics can be turned into companies such as and refurbished for resale or otherwise recycled.

      What I'm encourage to see are the trade-in programs offered by many mobile phone and electronics retailers.

    • Onlinestrategies profile image

      Onlinestrategies 5 years ago

      Electronic waste posses a great health hazards which makes it necessary to recycle them safely.