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5 Steps To Take When Recycling Electronics

One of the most critical steps of moving is downsizing and disposing of unwanted items, such as old electronics. Take time during your move to recycle your unused and obsolete electronic devices.

Over 100 million pounds of electronic materials are recycled each year. However, the number of recycled electronics parts could be far greater if more people recycled their unwanted devices. Too many TVs, computers, and cell phones end up in landfills, where hazardous lead, mercury, and arsenic from the components can leach into the ground.

Here are five steps to take to manage your electronic waste before you move.


If your phone, laptop, or TV is relatively new, sell the item at a yard sale or local online sales site. Many families struggle to afford electronic items and are happy to purchase your items at a discount price.

Some video-game retailers buy back working gaming consoles, controllers, and other accessories. You won’t receive anywhere near the retail price for the items, but you can earn a bit of spending money for your relocation.


If your unwanted electronic devices still work, donate the items. The following organizations in your area may accept working TVs, computers, laptops, and cellphones:

  • Thrift stores
  • Charitable organizations
  • Schools and clubs
  • Churches and other religious institutions
  • Domestic violence organizations

When you give your used electronic items to non-profit organizations, you may be entitled to a tax deduction for the donations. Ask the qualifying organization for a receipt to verify the transaction. You’ll need proof of your donation to claim the item’s fair market value on your income tax forms.

Search online to find local individuals requesting e-waste donations. Your old gaming system or personal computer can find a new home with an owner who knows how to refurbish the devices and make them useful again.


E-waste recycling centers exist in most cities in the U.S., and some offer pickup of unwanted electronics. Search online or in the phonebook to find the location of your nearest recycling facility.

Some electronics retailers accept e-waste. Call your local big-box electronics retailers to learn more about their recycling programs. You may need to deliver your devices to specific chain-store locations to drop off your e-waste. Metal scrapping companies may also accept certain types of recyclable electronics.

Retailers and manufacturers who might accept your e-waste include the following:

  • Cellphone companies
  • Office supply stores
  • Printer manufacturers
  • Online electronics sales sites

Research e-waste policies at each company’s website or by calling their customer support lines. Some recycling organizations set up e-waste collection sites on specific days of the week, so make sure you deliver your items during the right day and time.


Review the list of accepted e-waste items at your chosen collection point. That way, you won’t be stuck with a huge old-school monitor in your car when a site doesn’t accept the devices. Most e-waste recyclers will accept PCs and laptops.

Check with your chosen reclaim or recycling site to ensure the following devices are acceptable for e-waste recycling drop-off:

  • Routers
  • FM and CB radios
  • Speakers
  • Stereo components
  • Charging devices and cords
  • Electronic clocks
  • Alarm systems

Most e-waste recyclers are happy to provide you with a list of items they accept for recycling. When you don’t have access to a list, call ahead to learn the acceptable e-waste details.


Backup any sensitive files, photos, and other data on PCs and laptops before recycling the items. You can transfer the data to another working computer, save it on an external hard drive, or save files to a cloud service.

After you extract all of the files you need, wipe your hard drive clean to avoid misuse of personal data. Depending on the device type and its operating system, the following steps can protect your accounts and privacy:

  • Delete sensitive files
  • Encrypt your drivers
  • De-authorize all music and media accounts
  • Delete your browsing history

After taking these steps, delete the hard drive in the devices. You must overwrite or physically destroy mechanical hard drives, since your deleted files are recoverable. You have a mechanical hard drive if the device has no solid-state drive (SSD).

Internal SSDs completely erase deleted files from the device’s memory. As long as you delete all of your sensitive files correctly, an SSD will not allow deleted data recovery. You must format external SSDs to remove all data.

Your computer’s operating system may offer reliable data wiping, so check with your system’s help pages or the software manufacturer to learn more about how to use their system tools. Third-party tools can also permanently delete files and are available for download.

When you need a friendly, reliable driver and an ample moving van for your relocation, contact Murphy Moving & Storage. Our experienced agents will reserve your moving van for your chosen date, and we can advise you about appropriate moving supplies to securely pack the electronic items you plan to keep.


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