Getting rid of outdated or unwanted electronics can be a bit of a challenge. These wastes contain hazardous materials including lead and mercury, so they should be kept out of landfills. Recycling programs or companies can help. Some charge a fee, some are free, some even pay you for the items. Whatever you do, make sure you erase personal information from the devices before you let them go. Lyra Solochek, BayLink editor
Many electronic retailers and manufacturers offer a trade-in program where you can recycle your old electronics with purchase. Some also have free programs. Here are a few:
Apple: Free program for iPods and cell phones. www.apple.com/environment/recycling
Dell: Free "end of life" recycling for Dell products. www.dell.com/recycling
Sony and LG: Go to their site to search for a Waste Management dropoff center near you, where you may recycle your electronics for free. There's a limit of five for LG products. www.sonystyle.com/recycle and us.lge.com/green
Motorola: Print out a prepaid shipping label and send in a cell phone of any brand. A portion of the proceeds generated from selling working cell phones is donated to schools taking part in the Motorola Race to Recycle program. www.racetorecycle.com (click on Recycle Cell Phones).
County services: Hillsborough, Pinellas and Hernando counties allow free disposal of electronics, which are classified as hazardous waste. Pasco residents may pay $5 per electronic item. Check your county's Web site for details:
Charities: Check with your favorite charity group to see if it takes electronics. Some accept computers to be refurbished or cell phones that can be used by abuse victims. But some don't. Many retailers also have postage-paid mail-in envelopes for cell phones to be sent to charity organizations.
Online buy-back programs will take your unwanted electronics and pay you for them. Here are a few: gazelle.com
The sites give you an estimate for an item after you answer some questions about its condition. When you accept the terms, you send in the item using a prepaid shipping label you print out (gazelle.com sends you a postage-paid box). You get a check, PayPal credit or a gift card after the item is examined at the warehouse. Some sites let you donate the proceeds to a charity.
If your item has no trade-in value, you can still recycle it through Office Depot's Tech Recycling program. You may purchase a recycling box (small $5, medium $10, large $15) at the store. Fill the box with accepted items, then take the unsealed box back to the store for recycling.
Staples takes in e-wastes, including computers, monitors, laptops and other office equipment of all brands regardless of where it was purchased. Small computer peripherals are free, $10 per piece for larger items.
Sources: National Center for Electronic Recycling, mygreenelectronics.com, earth911.com