This is the first in a series of articles about how to easily recycle your Macintosh computer, monitor, printer, ink and toner cartridges, batteries, cell phones and other electronics commonly used in small businesses or around the home. I live in Seattle so I focus on Seattle and King County, but many of these resources are available in the greater Puget Sound area.
In 2006, Sally Deneen, a Seattle resident, wrote a good overview about How to Recycle Practically Anything. There’s a lot of good information in this article but some details have changed over the years.
Starting in 2009, Washington State joined other states in offering an e-cycle program. It is a free, convenient and environmentally responsible recycling program for computers, monitors, laptops and televisions. It is for households and small businesses, schools, non-profits and others. Be aware that computer peripherals such as keyboards, mice and printers are not included in this program.
Many of the organizations that participate in the E-Cycle Washington program also belong to the Take It Back Network. This network operates in King, Pierce and Snohomish counties. It’s a group of retailers, repair shops, non-profit organizations, waste haulers and recyclers that offer convenient options for recycling certain products that should not be disposed of in the trash. I can’t give you an exhaustive list of all of the items that various groups take, but here’s a partial list of what one can recycle: audio and video equipment, cell phones, printers, computer peripherals, copiers, fax machines, PDAs, pagers, tapes, discs, video game consoles, and circuit boards.
[Update April 2019: Please be aware that electronics recyclers are not all created equal. Total Reclaim, a Seattle-based recycler was a for-profit company and the area’s largest recycler. This article indicates that Total Reclaim was not properly recycling the equipment donated to them. The co-owners have been found guilty of fraud, sentenced to prison and ordered to pay restitution.
One of my preferred recyclers is Interconnection, located in Fremont. While they are a highly certified recycler, they try to reuse as much equipment as possible. They test all equipment that is donated and make some computers and equipment available to low-income individuals, people who volunteer their time at Interconnection and local non-profit organizations. Additionally, they ship some computers to overseas groups who can put them to use. I donate most of my computers, monitors, printers, scanners and other peripherals at Interconnection and encourage you to consider them as well.
The Seattle Public Utilities web site lets you search it to find how to donate, recycle or dispose of many items.
In future articles I’ll provide more detail about how to recycle specific items like compact fluorescent lamps, zip disks, floppy disks, video tapes, film and other items.