Experts discuss proper methods for electronic recycling

Out with the old and in with the new is what many do with technology. But some ask, where do those old electronics end up?

Video Transcript

NYDIA HAN: Time to talk about getting rid of your old electronics. Doing it the right way is important for three reasons. One, to protect the planet. Two, to protect people who end up handling the devices. And three, to protect your personal information.

You just got a new smartphone or tablet. Now, what to do with the old one?

KEVIN BRASLER: It's hard to know what to do with this stuff. You really should be careful in how you recycle it.

NYDIA HAN: Not only do you have to make sure you wipe your device safely of your information, you also need to make sure you're not harming the environment or people in the process. You see, the material on the inside of devices can be toxic to the planet and to those working with them. And Consumers Checkbook says the retail industry has had a checkered past when dealing with discarded electronics.

KEVIN BRASLER: For many years, electronics were sent abroad to developing countries that weren't really equipped to handle them. And they used child laborers or people who were being paid little or even no money to pick through these things and pull out the materials that still had value.

NYDIA HAN: The creation of two voluntary certification programs has helped change that. They are eStewards and Responsible Recycling, or R2. Checkbook says both have pretty stringent standards, but says eStewards goes a step further.

KEVIN BRASLER: What's best about the eStewards program is they actually audit these retailers, these recyclers. They put little trackers. They hide trackers in items and send them through the recycling stream to see where they end up.

NYDIA HAN: That's, of course, to make sure they're ending up in the correct spot. Both eStewards and R2 have websites where you can find certified recycling facilities in your area. And according to Checkbook, companies with responsible recycling programs include Best Buy, Samsung, and Staples.

And we've put links for a lot of these options and more information from Consumers Checkbook at, guys.

- All right, Nydia.

- Thank you, Nydia.