What to do with Unwanted Electronics

Listed below are resources that Iowans can use to recycle their old electronics and to learn more about purchasing electronics.

Options for unwanted electronics

  • Donation and Reuse - There are many groups that can benefit from the donation of used electronics, including charities, schools and non-profit organizations. Prior to donating, make arrangements with the intended recipient, make sure all equipment is in working order and remove any personal files stored on the system.
  • Repair, Refurbish or Upgrade - Determine if a new product is really necessary. If the equipment is not too old and is still in working condition, consider upgrading the software, buying new memory, repairing or replacing certain parts to save money and to avoid creating unnecessary waste.
  • Sell or Trade - Consider selling the electronics to someone who could use them, or find a manufacturer who will give you credit toward a new purchase for turning in your old one.
  • Recycle - Electronic recyclers recover usable parts and market the metals, plastic and glass. This reduces the volume and toxicity of waste going to Iowa landfills as well as saving energy and conserving natural resources.

E-Waste Recycling Program

Manufacturer Take-Back Programs

Several major computer manufacturers and nationwide retailers have initiated independent recycling programs.

  • IBM and Hewlett-Packard/Compaq have started nationwide mail-in programs in which a consumer pays a recycling fee, then packages and ships equipment to a designated recycling firm.
  • Dell will recycle your unwanted Dell-branded Product for free. Plus, if you buy a new Dell desktop or notebook and select the free recycling option at the time of purchase, Dell will recycle your old PC and monitor at no cost to you (even if it isn't a Dell-branded Product.)
  • Purchase any qualifying Apple computer or monitor and receive free recycling of your old computer and monitor - regardless of manufacturer.

Things to Consider When Buying Electronics

When shopping for electronics, it is important to choose these types of products:

  • Products with reduced toxics content - Electronics made with reduced lead, mercury and other heavy metals are safer for the environment.
  • Refurbished or remanufactured products, or those with recycled content or made from remanufactured materials - Buying remanufactured items, or those made with remanufactured parts and other recycled content, uses less energy, conserves natural resources and closes the recycling loop.
  • Products with longer life expectancy and ease of upgradeability - Extend the life of your electronics by purchasing items that are easily upgradeable. Instead of buying new items, install new software, update programs and upgrade memory.
  • Electronics that can be leased - Leased items are returned to the vendor after a specified period of time. Consumers leasing electronics are able to obtain the most up-to-date products, and at the same time have a built-in take-back program to ensure that products are responsibly disposed of at the end of the lease.
  • Products with less packaging - Excess packaging means added waste. Pick up your product instead of having it shipped, and ask for on-line manuals instead of heavy paper volumes.


DNR Contact DNR Contact

Theresa Stiner

Sue Johnson