The problem itself is toxic: The United States generates more than 11 million tons of e-waste per year, including computers, office equipment and small IT devices that are at the end of life.
Much of this cast-off technology contains hazardous substances that can contaminate soil and underground water sources. According to the World Health Organization, environmental toxins found in e-waste include “lead, cadmium, chromium, brominated flame retardants, or polychlorinated biphenyls.”
What can small businesses do with used technology that is no longer cutting-edge? Here are four ways to safely ditch those IT antiques:
1. Take Advantage of Manufacturer Take-Backs
Twenty-eight states and the District of Columbia have passed legislation requiring manufacturers to take back equipment that has reached end of life.
Some manufacturers offer voluntary take-backs in states without such laws. Others, such as Acer, Apple, Epson, HP and Samsung, offer take-back programs that let businesses return retired equipment at drop-off locations and through the mail.
Contact IT makers directly for information about individual take-back programs.
2. E-Waste Recyclers Make Electronic Recycling Easy
Known as e-Stewards, these recyclers possess a certification developed by the Basel Action Network and the e-Stewards Founders to identify the most globally responsible recyclers. Certified e-Stewards comply with the ISO 14001 standard for global environmental management and the e-Stewards Standard.
By using a certified recycler, companies can safeguard against the illegal dumping of hazardous waste in developing countries. A list of e-Stewards recyclers, along with their contact information, can be found online at e-stewards.org/find-a-recycler.
3. Consider Your IT Resale Options
Older equipment can be sold online using the OfferUp and Gone apps. OfferUp, for instance, facilitates a trustworthy, safe experience with standards for transactions and behavior for both buyers and sellers. The Gone app assesses potential customers for used electronics, sells and then ships the items. Gone also provides free shipping and boxes. And, of course, there is always Craigslist and eBay on which to sell the used equipment.
4. Make a Charitable Donation
Some charities, including Goodwill and the World Computer Exchange, accept used IT equipment to resell to the public or reuse in-house. For example, Goodwill partners with Dell’s Reconnect program to accept all brands of used computers and accessories.The retired equipment can be dropped off at any participating Goodwill donation center.
The World Computer Exchange, based in Boston, accepts mail-in and drop-off donations to help “young people in 3,300 schools, youth centers, libraries and universities in 47 countries,” according to its website.
For large donations, contact the Exchange before sending in the gear.