Electronic waste and recycling

discarded computer equipmentConsumer electronics such as TVs, computer equipment, and DVD players contain toxic metals and chemicals. According to the EPA, Americans own nearly 3 billion electronic products.

These devices are safe to use every day in your house, but when thrown away, can release heavy metals and other chemicals under certain conditions in the environment. Protect yourself and the environment: keep them out of the trash.

Residents can take advantage of the growing number of recycling options for household electronics—some are free, while some charge a fee.

Covered electronic devices

Recycle ewaste in Minnesota: www.pca.state.mn.us/ewasteCollection sites in Minnesota

  • Fees may apply—shop around for your best deal.
  • Contact the collector to ensure that they will accept your items.
  • Some collection locations are restricted to city or county residents.
  • For counties without listed collectors, contact your county solid waste office for ideas.

Registered collectors in Minnesota

Recycle anything with a circuit board

In Minnesota, by law, you must recycle televisions and computer monitors. They can't go into the trash.

Same goes for components that contain mercury or rechargeable batteries. 

Almost anything electronic can be recycled. Talk to your local recycler. You can help by keeping anything with a circuit board out of the trash:

  • Televisions
  • Monitors
  • Cell phones
  • Laptops
  • Computers
  • DVD and VCR players
  • Fax machines
  • PDAs

Prevent e-waste

  • Use your products for as long as possible. You can use your analog TV longer by purchasing a converter box, or receiving TV through satellite or cable.
  • Donate your TV to a thrift store that accepts electronics, or give it away through online services such as Craigslist and Freecycle.

Retail programs

Some retail stores provide recycling services that are convenient for consumers that want to get rid of various broken or unwanted electronics, particularly cell phones and rechargeable batteries.

  • Best Buy provides free and easy recycling for any brand of cell phone, printer ink cartridge, and rechargeable battery at any of their 600-plus retail locations nationwide—look for the special display in the front entrance.
  • Through the HTML icon Call2Recycle site locator program, many retailers offer drop-offs for all brands of unwanted cell phones and accessories. Go online to find participating locations, or call 1-877-2-RECYCLE. Useable phones are refurbished for donation, and the rest is recycled with a portion of the proceeds given to charity.
  • Sprint Project Connect offers free drop-off of all brands of wireless phones at Sprint Stores and participating Easter Seals locations nationwide. Donations are either recycled or resold, with a portion of the net proceeds benefiting Easter Seals and the National Organization on Disability (NOD).
  • Staples office supply stores offer free drop-off recycling services for used cell phones, PDAs, pagers, and rechargeable batteries. The chain has partnered with CollectiveGood to refurbish useable devices and recycle those that are broken. Use the Staples online Store locator to see if there's another store near you.

Manufacturer recycling programs

Several major manufacturers of computers and electronics are offering consumers recycling and reuse alternatives for their branded products. This is most common for old PCs and computer peripherals (monitors, keyboards, mice, etc.).

Options for cell phones

Cell phones seem to be everywhere these days, and millions are trashed each year in the U.S. But unwanted phones have value—keep them out of the trash!

There is a wide variety of options for collecting unwanted programs and putting them to use—donation and reuse, resale, and recycling.