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E-Waste: How & Where to Recycle Old Electronics

You wake up on Monday morning to the persistent beeping of your phone alarm. You hit snooze a few times before getting up and ready for the day. During your morning commute on the bus, you listen to music while reading the morning news or latest Facebook notification. When you get to work, you boot up your computer and both of your monitors, check your email, and then rush to your 9:00 a.m. meeting with coffee in one hand and a tablet in the other.

Does this sound familiar? As our personal and professional lives become more and more dependent on technology, most of us own at least one or two gadgets, maybe even more. Combine this with the rate at which technology is evolving, causing us to dump our old models in favor of faster, sleeker ones, and we’ve got an e-waste problem on our hands.

An old television


E-waste is short for electronic waste. This include discarded products such as computers, televisions, smartphones, tablets, and printers.

E-Waste differs from regular waste in one major way. Many of the electronics you throw away contain lead, mercury, cadmium, and brominated flame retardants. Not only are these materials toxic, but they’re also considered bio-accumulative. This means they concentrate in the human body, causing negative impacts on fetal development and nursing infants. A large amount of e-Waste from the United States is exported to developing countries, where toxic releases end up in the soil, water, and air, affecting crops eaten by both humans and animals.

free electronic recycling: E-CYCLE WASHINGTON

E-waste is not completely avoidable, but there are ways to recycle e-waste that minimize environmental impact. E-Cycle Washington offers free computer recycling, laptop recycling, TV recycling, as well as monitors, tablets, and e-readers for households, small businesses, school, and nonprofits. Other electronic items may be recycled for a small fee. 

Since E-Cycle Washington began in 2009, they have collected and responsibly recycled 434,335,268 pounds of electronics.

To find out where and how you can recycle your electronics with E-Cycle Washington, visit Washington's 1 800 Recycle Database or call 1-800-RECYCLE. To find the City of Seattle’s drop-off locations or to schedule curb-side pickup, visit Washington Recycles website. For keyboard, cellphone, and printer recycling, look for Best Buy or Staples stores near you.

Need to recycle batteries, medicine, or mattresses? Learn how and where to recycle anything in Seattle.


Once E-Cycle Washington has collected discarded electronics, they pass them on to several certified recyclers. Total Reclaim, a Seattle Credit Union Select Employer Group, is one of E-Cycle Washington’s preferred processors and the leading recycler of computers and electronics in the Pacific Northwest.

When Total Reclaim receives a shipment of electronics, they separate materials such as glass, plastic, and metal, which are sold to be reused in the manufacturing of new products. Toxic materials are recovered and kept out of landfills. Total Reclaim and E-Cycle Washington’s other processors do not export to third-world countries.


  1. Recycle your electronics through the E-Cycle Washington program or directly to responsible e-Waste processors like Total Reclaim.
  2. Allow your electronics to be reused by selling them or donating them to those in need.
  3. Reduce consumption of electronics by maintaining your current gadgets or purchasing higher-quality products that last longer.
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