No electronic device can be expected to last forever. Phones, laptops, TVs, and tablets - no matter the device, there will come a time when it has to be replaced.
Most people are aware that simply throwing these items into the garbage is horrible for the environment. Electronics are made with harmfully toxic chemicals. Most TVs, for example, are made with lead, cadmium (a heavy metal), cathode-ray tubes, and flame-retardant circuit boards. When these items go into a landfill, these chemicals seep out as the devices break down. The chemicals then taint the soil and groundwater for years, leading to long-term, irreversible pollution.
There are already millions of devices buried in landfills that can’t be removed. The responsibilities of owning technology include safe device disposable.
Here’s how you can get rid of an old electronic device, like an iPad, without harming the planet.
Is it possible to recycle old iPads, phones, and televisions? Absolutely! But, these devices need to be recycled responsibly and in the proper way.
Unfortunately, you won’t be able to place your old iPad in your recycling bin. And, sometimes, you won’t be able to take it to your local recycling center either. This is because the process of recycling technology is much different from recycling glass, plastic, wood, and other materials. It requires specific skills to ensure that the dangerous chemicals are contained. Technological recycling plants also have to know how to destroy the data on devices for the previous owner’s safety and privacy.
Before you try to recycle your device, be sure that it cannot be fixed and re-used. Sometimes, you can donate fixable devices to charity organizations that repair them and re-sell or give away refurbished items. If there’s still more “life” in your device, try to donate it before going straight for recycling.
But, if you’re sure that there’s no hope for your device, you can move on to safely recycle it.
First, you’ll need to find a location that is certified to recycle technology. Every country has different compliance rules for this industry, so it’s best to do your research beforehand.
Once you’ve found a location, contact them to find out how their drop-offs work. Some places have drop boxes that are open 24/7. Others have offices that operate with normal business hours. Some, still, are pick-up only, especially if there is no traditional office for drop-offs. You’ll need to arrange with the recycling company the method that you’ll use to get the device to them.
When the company has your device in hand, they’ll perform a data wipe. This step is incredibly important, for both yourself and the company. This data wipe removes any sensitive information that may still be on your device and prevents it from ending up in the wrong hands.
Hard drives are easy targets for thieves hoping to find hidden files with bank details or sensitive information. Once the data is wiped, the hard drives are then usually destroyed. If not destroyed, they’ll be re-used.
The company will take apart the device and try to salvage as much as it can. It does this by shredding, sorting, and separating the pieces to make the following processes easier.
Depending on the type of device, age, and condition, there may still be parts that can be reused. You won’t have any claim to these items though - companies generally sell anything salvaged to recoup the expensive costs of recycling.
Salvageable materials include copper, tin, titanium, iron, aluminum, gold, and silver.
From here, the parts that can’t be salvaged, melted into different items, or sold, have to be destroyed. This is done through either incineration or by taking these (no longer harmful) materials to the landfill. An iPad may end up being just ashes or only a few ounces of waste materials - much better than if the entire device wound up in the trash.
When you recycle old iPads, you’re redistributing or destroying their components in an environmentally friendly way.
Now that you know that recycling your old devices is the way to go, where can you take them?
If you’re in the United States, you can use this list to find your state’s recycling laws. Some states have free recycling services, while others do not.
Once you know whether this process will cost you, you can then contact the closest recycling company for more information.
But, if you’d like to return your iPad to its source, Apple actually has a recycling program you can take advantage of. This program is offered all over the world and is encouraged by Apple.
Your incentive? If you have an eligible device, Apple will give you credit towards your next purchase. If not, the company will recycle it for free, often saving you time and money. You can even get a credit estimate to determine how much your old device is worth.
Ultimately, recycling your electronics is essential. The damage that these devices can do to the environment is monumental and there is a way to stop it. If you or someone you know would like to get rid of an old iPad or other Apple product, consider using Apple’s recycling program. Or, you can donate it to a charitable organization. If all else fails and you need to dispose of it otherwise, do so responsibly and with care and consideration for your impact on the planet.