July 18, 2022

A Solution for your Old Electronics- Hidden in Plain Sight

Many of us live with a designated drawer in the kitchen or bedroom that has gradually accumulated a collection of old mobile phones, obsolete chargers, and other small, defunct electronics. For any number of reasons, we let that collection grow- whether it be data privacy concerns, an icky feeling letting it all go to the landfill, or the perpetual “one day I’ll deal with this.”

Well today’s the day. Believe it or not, Amazon has a free recycling program for small electronics, ranging from cellphones and fitness trackers to chargers and bluetooth speakers. The recycling page allows you to enter the quantity of devices you are sending and print a free UPS shipping label. As long as you have a cardboard box to ship your items in, you are good to go. 

But what happens to the items? What if my old phones still contain personal information? 

An Amazon-partnered licensed recycling facility will perform material reclamation, by which point all data and personal information will be erased (if not already). Amazon does recommend factory resets and deregistering device accounts before sending in electronics. 

Do my items need to be in a certain condition to be accepted? I.e. does it matter if all my screens are cracked and my cords are chewed in half by a very persistent feline? 

Nope- Amazon appears to welcome any state of defunct! Items with swollen and leaking batteries cannot be recycled, but that is the only stipulation when shipping old items. 

A full list of what Amazon itemizes for small consumer electronics: 

  • E-Readers
  • Tablets
  • Streaming Media (i.e. Roku)
  • Smart Home
  • Home Security
  • Cellphones
  • Fitness Trackers
  • Bluetooth Speakers
  • Dash
  • AWS Devices
  • Device Covers
  • Chargers/Cables
  • Keyboards
  • Mice
  • Video Game Consoles 
  • Other Small Electronics 

Why is this important to CIRT? 

While rules and regulations regarding waste disposal change across county lines, UPS dropoff locations are ubiquitous across the U.S. and easily accessible with a quick internet search. As long as Amazon’s electronics recycling drop-offs continue to be provided for free, this information can be integrated to CIRT’s database of real-time recycling guidelines for proper disposal by location. For CIRT clients selling home electronics, a scanned CIRT QR code on their packaging could direct consumers to the nearest UPS dropoff location for disposal at the product’s end-of-life.