Katherine Boehret

When the Devices Are Done

It is time for spring cleaning, or as I think of it, my yearly chance to shove old technology products to the back of my storage closet. Instead, this should be a chance to take advantage of companies’ stepped-up recycling efforts.

Last year, 460 million pounds of electronics were collected and recycled in the U.S., a 53 percent increase from 2010, according to the Consumer Electronics Association.

People know they should recycle their old or unwanted technology products, but they don’t know where to begin. So this week, I did the dirty work, rounding up details from eight major companies about their recycling programs, including fees, dropoff locations, acceptable products, shipping options, haul-away services and personal-data-wiping solutions. Readers: Your days of pack-rat procrastinating are numbered.

Best Buy’s recycling program is made up of four categories: in-store kiosks for ink and toner cartridges, rechargeable batteries, wires, cords and cables; free removal and recycling of an appliance or TV when a new appliance or TV is delivered; home pickup of two appliances or two TVs for $100 with a $20 charge for additional units; and BestBuy.com/tradein for trading gently used electronics for Best Buy gift cards. The store’s Geek Squad offers services like removing a PC’s hard drive before handing it over to be recycled.

Apple invites its customers to bring all batteries and iPods into its 247 U.S. stores for recycling, and any iPod (except the iPod shuffle) can be turned in for a 10 percent discount on a new iPod. People also can opt to ship their old products off to be recycled free by filling out a form found at Apple.com/recycling; Apple contracts with a company called PowerON to do this recycling. Acceptable products include desktop or notebook Windows PCs and Macs, iPads, iPhones as well as any make or type of mobile phone. If the product is worth something, you’ll get an Apple gift card.

Amazon doesn’t charge people to recycle its Kindle e-readers or Kindle batteries, and this includes non-working and working units. People can print free UPS labels for shipping their old Kindles to be recycled on ecotakeback.com/kindle; they then simply drop the Kindles off at a UPS store. Amazon wipes all identifying marks or personal documents from these Kindles. Further details can be found at amzn.to/JkilQX. If Kindles are in good condition, customers can opt to trade them in for Amazon gift cards via the company’s Electronic Trade-In program.

HP’s new partnership with Staples offers a physical location where people can drop off HP and non-HP consumer products for recycling. The Staples stores will accept a variety of products, including laptops, monitors, mice, fax machines and GPS devices, though not televisions. People who recycle printer cartridges can earn Staples rewards points toward store merchandise. FedEx Office stores also serve as dropoff locations for products that will be shipped off for recycling: HP and Compaq products can be shipped using a free pre-printed voucher found at HP.com/recycling, but shipping vouchers for other brands of consumer products will cost $10 to $25.

Dell’s recycling program includes free home pickup and FedEx shipping options, but these are only for Dell products; details can be found at Dell.com/recycle. If a customer buys a new Dell product, the company will take the old one, even if it isn’t Dell-branded, though the buyer must remember to select “free recycling” when buying. Dell’s partnership with Goodwill helped the company create its Dell Reconnect program, which lets people drop off old computer electronics at Goodwill stores such as PCs, laptops, tablets and keyboards, but not mobile phones. At Goodwill, someone will inspect the products to decide whether they can be reused, refurbished or recycled. If the products are reused or refurbished, they’ll be sold at Goodwill.

People with Samsung products can use free mail-back shipping options via one of three links: Samsung.com/starus for toner cartridges, mobile.samsungusa.com/recycling for mobile products, or www.oemtakeback.com/samsung for all other Samsung products. Samsung and non-Samsung products also can be dropped off at more than 1,000 locations listed on this website: Samsung.com/recyclingdirect.

Sony accepts its brand of products for free recycling at about 850 dropoff centers; some of the centers also offer free recycling for other manufacturers’ products. Sony also offers free shipping and recycling only for Sony products as long as they weigh less than 25 pounds and the person shipping lives more than 25 miles away from a dropoff center. Sony and other brands of products can, if eligible, be traded in for purchasing new Sony products. Eligibility and details on Sony dropoff locations can be found at Sony.com/ecotrade.

Microsoft Stores, of which there are 16 nationwide, offer free in-store recycling of cellphones, rechargeable phone batteries and computers. If the item has value, which is determined by its age, condition and current market value, customers will receive Microsoft store gift cards; items eligible for this include all smartphones, computers and gaming consoles, including Xbox. Xbox owners can ship and recycle their Microsoft hardware using prepaid shipping forms at http://bit.ly/Kjk6xk. Microsoft stores offer services to wipe personal data from products before recycling, although there may be a cost for this depending on whether the customer is doing a trade-in, upgrade or just recycling.

So do as I say, not as I do, and get to one of these online or physical recycling locations.

Write to Katie at katie.boehret@wsj.com

The Point of Return

Here are recycling options from some major companies:




Free with shipping form. Batteries and iPods accepted at Apple stores.



Free shipping via FedEx for HP and Compaq products with pre-printed voucher. Fee for other products is $10-$25. Staples stores accept many HP and non-HP consumer products, except TVs.



Free shipping or pickup of Dell product. Free pickup of non-Dell item with purchase of Dell product. Partnership with Goodwill for Dell Reconnect accepts any brand of electronics except mobile phones.



Free shipping for Kindles via UPS with pre-printed voucher. Not available.



Free mailback shipping for various Samsung products. Drop Samsung and non-Samsung products at over 1,000 third-party locations.



Free shipping for Sony products weighing less than 25 pounds. Drop Sony products at about 850 third-party locations.

Best Buy


Free appliance removal when purchasing new one. Or, $100 for home pickup of two items. Recycling kiosks for ink cartridges, rechargeable batteries, cord, cables, etc.



Free shipping of Microsoft hardware, including Xbox. Cellphones, rechargeable phone batteries and computers accepted at Microsoft stores.

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