Most manufacturers now provide their own nationwide take-back programs for electronics in addition to sponsoring local events. But these programs vary widely in their quality and effectiveness.
One of the most exemplary is Dell’s. Through its Reconnect computer recycling program, you can drop off any brand of used equipment in any condition at more than 2,000 participating Goodwill donation centers. It’s free, and you’ll get a receipt for tax purposes. The DellReconnect website has a list of the products that are accepted, and you can enter your ZIP code to find the nearest location.
The company also offers free pickup of its products by FedEx, even if you’re not buying a new Dell product. You just print a label through the company’s website, package the item, and either drop it off at a FedEx location or call for a pickup. And if you’re buying a Dell product, the company will pick up non-Dell products when you select the free recycling option at the time of purchase. Dell doesn’t provide packing material, but you can use the box from your new equipment.
Dell also takes back spent ink and toner cartridges. You can drop them off at a Staples store or mail them by printing a free shipping label.
Lenovo takes back only its own Medion, and Iomega products and certain IBM branded products. (You can email Lenovo at email@example.com to check which IBM products it recycles). Customers can either schedule a free pickup or bring the product to a post-office drop-off location. Rechargeable batteries from Lenovo products can be recycled through the Call2Recycle program, a nonprofit financed by product manufacturers. To find a drop-off location in your area, go to Call2Recycle's website. According to the site, there are more than 30,000 throughout the U.S. and Canada.
Toshiba offers a few options for recycling or repurposing gear. A Recycling Locator offers a number of options based on your answers to questions such as whether the item works and if it’s a Toshiba device. In addition to drop-off locations, the locator offers options such as selling, exchanging, or donating your device. Choosing Sell or Exchange takes you Radio Shack’s trade-in website. For Toshiba-branded products, the company also offers a free mail-in program.
Apple provides free recycling of any brand of computer. If the item has monetary value, the company will apply the value to an Apple gift card. Return an iPod to an Apple Retail Store (or mail it in) for a 10 percent purchase discount on a purchase of a new iPod at an Apple store. Apple also recently introduced an in-store iPhone trade-in program.
For outmoded cell phones, some manufacturers and most cellular service providers have recycling programs in place through their stores and authorized dealers, accepting all carriers' equipment for recycling and reuse in take-back programs.
Most electronics manufacturers have some sort of take-back program in place. For specific details on their programs, check the manufacturers' websites.