Computer and Electronics Recycling (E-Cycling)
Computer and electronics recycling is an environmentally friendly, common sense alternative to disposal. With recycling, waste is properly managed through reuse or re-manufacturing, thereby using less energy and fewer raw materials than making new products. Additionally, electronic materials that are disposed of in the trash can release hazardous materials such as lead, mercury and hexavalent chromium into the environment.
Recycling used batteries is also a smart move. Rechargeable batteries can be recycled at no cost at many electronics retailers. Alkaline (single use) batteries are also recyclable; visit www.call2recycle.org for options. You'll find local resources on our Household Hazardous Waste page.
Best Buy stores accept most electronics for recycling at their customer service counters, and every U.S. Best Buy store has a kiosk where you can drop off rechargeable batteries, wires, cords, cables and plastic bags. See the state-specific recycling information section on the Electronics and Appliances Recycling page to view program details for your area.
Office Depot's recycling program offers boxes of three different sizes that you can load up with a variety of tech gadgets and drop off at any Office Depot store; the small, medium and large boxes go for $5, $10 and $15, respectively. Office Depot also provides free in-store recycling for cell phones, rechargeable batteries and ink & toner cartridges.
ReConnect is a partnership between Dell and Goodwill Industries International that recycles used electronics, of any brand in any condition, at more than 2,000 participating Goodwill® locations for free.
Many manufacturers also have take-back programs to facilitate the recovery and proper management of their products. Visit their websites for more information.
Note: The city of Roanoke is in the process of developing more e-Cycling options for local residents. Please check back. More details will be made available as they are finalized.
Security Guidance for Consumers Recycling or Donating Computers - Removing Personal Information is Important
Be sure to remove all personal information from your electronic device before recycling or donating it. Usernames, passwords, credit card numbers, bank account information, confidential emails, tax returns, medical records, and resumes are all frequently stored on our computers. If you do not adequately remove your personal information you may fall prey to identity theft, financial loss, and/or embarrassment.
Methods to Remove Personal Information
Simply reformatting the hard drive or deleting files does not permanently erase the information stored on the drive. Data you thought you had erased can be recovered by using only a simple and free software package. There are two methods for safely removing information from hard drives - overwriting and physical destruction.
Overwriting of data means replacing previously stored data on a drive or disk with a predetermined pattern of meaningless information such as a string of 1s or 0s. This process will write a 1 or 0 on every part of the drive or disk no matter if that part of the drive contained data. The overwriting process should make at least one pass over the entire drive to reduce the chance that personal or financial data could be recovered. Additional passes will further reduce the potential for data recovery, although a single pass will defeat most software recovery attempts.
Some software packages’ installation DVDs contain disk management tools that can be used to overwrite the data on drive. In addition, the following software programs can be used to overwrite the data:
Physical destruction can be used to prevent the recovery of personal or financial information from defective or obsolete hard drives. The goal with physical destruction is to damage the hard drive disk platters. To perform physical destruction, remove the hard drive from the computer and disconnect any cables or mounting brackets. Drilling multiple holes into the hard disk platters will preclude use of the hard drive and provide reasonable protection from recovery of the data written on the drive. The hard drive can also be subjected to physical force by pounding with a large hammer that will disfigure, bend, mangle or otherwise mutilate the hard drive so it cannot be reinserted into a functioning computer. If you choose physical destruction as the method removing data, be careful and be sure to wear safety equipment such as goggles and gloves.