How to recycle your phone, PC and other tech gear

Now that recycling is mandatory in many states, it's become even easier to sell, recycle or give away your unwanted hardware.

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Sell your stuff

There's a chance that your electronics can make you a bit of cash (beyond the usual suspects of Craigslist and eBay). Typically, when you go to sites that purchase old gadgets, you fill out a form describing what you want to sell and the shape it's in. You then get an offer. If you like the offer, you ship the device to the site and they inspect it to make sure it matches what you described. And then -- you get money for it.

To find out what these sites will accept, I tried to sell them a flawless Wi-Fi iPad 2 with 16GB of memory, and a flawless Motorola Droid X2.

This site buys a variety of electronics, but it's a bit confusing to use, because it's not clear what devices it will buy. The items it lists include Apple laptops, GPS devices, e-readers, Apple displays, iPods, Apple accessories, digital cameras, wireless cards, PDAs (remember them?) and iPhones. In fact, though, when you explore the site, you'll find that it buys more than that. So your best bet is to type what you want to sell in the search box and see if will buy it. It offered $250 for the iPad 2 and $63 for the Droid X2.

Consumer Electronics Recycling

You can sell a limited number of smartphones, cell phones, iPods and PDAs here -- it buys only Apple, Palm and RIM equipment, and not every model. If the site doesn't buy your device, you can donate it instead, but you'll have to pay for shipping.


Recycle through this site and you get a gift card from Sam's Club or Nex Navy Exchange, or a prepaid Visa card. Select which you want, choose your device, answer a few simple questions about its state, and you'll be told how much you can get for it. For the iPad, it offered $209, and for the Droid X2, it offered $43.


This site specializes in buying Apple gear, although you can also sell a variety of mobile phones from other manufacturers, including BlackBerry, HTC, Motorola, Samsung, Nokia and others. Select the product you want to sell and its condition, and the site makes an offer. Payment is via an Amazon gift card, a check or PayPal. For the iPad 2, I got an offer of $230, and the Droid X2 got an offer of $63.


This site works like most of the others -- tell it what you want to sell, describe the condition it's in, get an offer, send it in. It offered $245 for the iPad 2 -- more than Gazelle but less than NextWorth -- but would not buy the Droid X2. You can get paid via PayPal or by check.


At this site, you sell your electronics and receive the money as a gift card for Target or J&R. The prices are comparable to what Gazelle offers -- for example, an iPad 2 for $252.15 and $61 for a Droid X2. The site asks more questions about what you're selling (for example, if your iPad has been engraved, the price drops by $40) than some of the competitors.


uSell will buy mobile phones, cameras, MP3 players, tablets, game consoles and e-readers. It works differently than the other buying sites -- rather than buying the electronics from you, it acts as a broker. Tell the site what you want to sell, and it searches through a network of electronics buyers and shows you the top five offers. Shipping is free. The method of payment will vary according to the buyer, with most typically offering to pay using PayPal or check. The top buyer for the iPad 2 offered $251.90, with one offer as low as $150. As for the Droid X2, the top offer was $60.50, with one offer as low as $35.

Recycle or give it away online

If your device is too old to sell or even donate, and it's not convenient to carry it to a recycler yourself, there are online services that can help.


Think of this as an online swap meet. Sign up for a local Freecycle Yahoo group near you, post what you've got to give away, and if anyone's interested, they'll let you know, and you can make arrangements for doing so. It also works in reverse -- join a group and see if someone is giving something away that you want.


This site recycles not just old electronics, but also a variety of computer-related waste, such as printer cartridges, CDs, DVDs and more. You'll have to pay, though, and payment varies according to what you recycle. For example, you'll pay $34.95 to recycle an old desktop PC with a monitor (under 17 inches) or $19.95 each for a CPU, laptop, monitor or printer. Shipping fees are included in the price.

For CDs, DVDs, cell phones, pagers and similar "technotrash" (the site's term), you buy a technotrash can, fill it and send it to be recycled. Price varies according to what you're recycling -- for example, $59.95 for up to 70 pounds of waste (that includes postage).


This site boasts a wide range of what you can recycle, including cell phones, laptops, digital music players, gaming systems, GPS units, cameras, e-readers and more. However, it won't accept desktop computers or monitors.

Select the type of electronics you want to recycle and it takes you to a questionnaire that will help you describe it. You may have to know a bit about the specs of the product you want to recycle -- for example, if you want to send a laptop, you'll need to know the processor type and speed. Apart from that, though, it's straightforward to use. You get a pre-paid label for sending it in.


This e-Stewards-certified site helps you recycle your electronics in several different ways. You can search for local recycling services near you by doing a search by ZIP code. If you live in New York State, you can also recycle your devices via the site for free. Pack them all up in a cardboard box, and then get a free FedEx shipping label from a link on the site.

Preston Gralla is a contributing editor for and the author of more than 35 books, including How the Internet Works (Que, 2006).

See more by Preston Gralla on

Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.

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