It has happened to us all at some point. You cracked your phone, rendering it irreparable and unusable. Your desktop is about to explode and your laptop is some combination of screen-less, key-less or inexplicably dysfunctional. The first thing on your mind is some combination of “hello second job,” “hello Craigslist” or “hello mom, dad or bank loans.” Unfortunately, we often stop there. What do we do with our beloved gizmo? Many of us lament the tragic death of our devices with a trashcan burial.
Stay with me here.
According to U.S. Bureau of Labor survey statistics, Americans ages 20 to 24 spend approximately 21 hours a week either watching television or using video games in leisure. This excludes all of the time we spend using computers for work or school-related endeavors. With how much time we spend on our devices, I think their demise deserves proper respect.
Electronics deserve to be recycled and reused. On Main Campus, there is the widely respected, award-winning Computer Recycling Services program. The CRC has been commissioned by Temple since 2003 to manage an extensive policy of refurbishing, recycling, reselling and donating unused or damaged electronic products. The CRC manages approximately 80 tons of electronic equipment each year. Ever consider what happened to those Paley Library computers that die at the most inopportune times during the semester? The CRC sees to it that they get the respect they deserve. When possible, the CRC will rehabilitate computers, printers, monitors and other technological devices and peripherals for further use by the university. However, when devices are deemed unusable, the CRC will recycle the components or reuse them to help refurbish other devices.
Often times, the CRC is either able to refurbish a product or receives a product that has no further use to its initial owner, but cannot find said product a new home on Main Campus. In these instances the CRC either donates the product to a school, community group or non-profit or places the product on the Surplus Computer Equipment Depot. The CRC makes about 30 donations to local community groups a year, totaling to approximately 400 computers. Additionally, the CRC also processes approximately 1,200 student orders a year. Members of the community can purchase one piece of reused computer equipment per semester using Diamond Dollars. In a cursory review of available stock at the time of writing, customers can purchase a new desktop, monitor, printer or even overhead projector at prices as low as $25. It should be noted that all computers come with no software and only an archaic operating system to test for functionality.
Of course, the CRC’s recycling program is limited to devices on Main Campus. While the CRC does help residence halls conduct the “Give and Go Green” program, the CRC generally does not accept items from students otherwise. So, while the CRC is a model of how to recycle electronics, it does not always help you if you are seeking to recycle your own materials.
The Environmental Protection Agency has a fairly extensive list of retail and manufacturer recycling programs that is accessible with a simple Google search. However, if you are like me and prefer instant gratification, try Earth911.com’s recycling center search engine. By simply typing in the type of product you want to recycle and a zip code, the website will provide you with a name and address for a local recycling center. This extends beyond just electronics. Earth911 can help you recycle everything from old medications to tiles and roof shingles.
It is increasingly important to be aware of how to recycle your electronics. Starting in 2013, it will be illegal to trash most electronic devices in Pennsylvania. The “Covered Device Recycling Act” bans electronic devices from entering landfills and also mandates that electronics manufacturers and retailers provide methods for consumers to recycle their products.
There is still the do-it-yourself approach to recycling electronics. A thriving market exists for busted Apple products and cell phones alike. Placing your wrecked electronics on Craigslist or Ebay is a fantastic way to recoup lost money. Likewise, extensive guides exist on how to repair Apple devices and cell phones. Learning how to repair devices can help you rake in a significant amount of money.
Obviously a lot of patience is necessary, but I’ve known people who were able to sell personally refurbished devices for up to 75 percent of the original cost of the device.
Joe Hoey can be reached at email@example.com.