Making Better Use of Old Electronics

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What happens to your old phone when you replace it with the newest model? The odds are high, if you’re not careful, that it ends up in a landfill or tucked away in a drawer where you don’t have to look at it again. With few regulations on handling what is known as e-waste, the build-up of old phones, tablets, computers, and other electronic devices is an increasing environmental threat . Fortunately, there are other options that keep your phone out of the dump and give it a new lease on life. From secondary markets to recycling programs and companies offering buybacks on old devices, increased awareness of the e-waste problem has created avenues for consumers to take part in pushing back.

Where to Take Your Old Devices

Many services, marketplaces, and dedicated companies exist for handling electronic devices, either to be recycled for components and materials or resold as used. The return process, accepted products, and value of returns vary from one to another. Some, such as the ecoATM company, handle solely buybacks while others act as vendors that users can also purchase from. Larger retailers and even manufacturers may offer buybacks as well, but the latter group generally deals only in their line of products and pays back in-store credit or trades on new products. It’s smart to shop around for your options both locally and online; you may want to find the highest-value returns, or you could choose a vendor for ease of trade, quick response, or additional services offered.

Alternatively, if you don’t especially need the money, there are plenty of local and national charity programs that you can donate old devices too.

What’s Your Device Worth?

The main factors in determining how much you can get back for your old phone, tablet, or other device are the device’s brand and model and the condition it’s in. The value of the former, as well as other aspects of the device such as phone color, will vary based on popularity in secondary markets, and these can fluctuate from one day or location to another. On the other hand, you can be pretty sure that the phone in a “like new” condition will net you more than one that’s heavily worn. Still, most vendors are pretty accommodating, and as long as the device still functions you can get some value out of it. Unless they offer recycling services, though, don’t try to give them a broken product; they may refuse outright or charge you a fee to take it off your hands. Dedicated electronics recyclers, however, will gladly take a broken phone or computer.

Prep Your Device for Sale

It only makes sense to ensure your device is in the right state to be sold before you take it to the vendor. Generally, this means removing any accessories and giving the device a quick cleaning to make it more visually appealing—this is also helpful for automated services like ecoATM, which may be unable to assess a device that still has a case or screen protector. More importantly, though, is ensuring your data is secure: remove microSD cards and other storage, as well as the SIM card in a phone, and perform a factory reset if there could be any personal data on the device. Many cases of personal data being stolen happen because that data wasn’t cleared from a device before it was traded, sold, or disposed of, and it’s not a guarantee that vendors will perform a hard reset or otherwise wipe the device.

With due diligence and a bit of research, you can ensure that electronic devices that you’re done with go to a better place than a toxic landfill. That means that much less waste in the environment, and perhaps a bit of cash in your pocket, too.

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