Why it matters: What do you do with your old phones, corrupted hard drives, and other electronic devices? My family has a junk drawer. I always promise to clean out and take the e-waste to a recycler, but I never do. The closest recycler is an hour's drive from me, so it's not very convenient to make the side trip. Some day maybe.
Fortunately, Amazon has had an easier way to rid yourself of electronic junk for a while — aside from throwing it in the landfill. Please don't do that.
Over the weekend, The Verge noticed a tweet from technologist Dave Zatz pointing out that Amazon has a small electronics recycling program. All you need to do is box the stuff up and apply for a shipping label through Amazon's recycling portal. Then drop off the package at your local UPS store. Or, if you're business has regular pickups, place it with the rest of the outgoing parcels.
Amazon will give us a free shipping label to recycle our old, worthless small electronics. https://t.co/xckAGOFhYk— Dave Zatz (@davezatz) July 11, 2022
Your junk is sent to Amazon's third-party recycling partner Re-Teck, which will erase or destroy any identifying marks or personal information, then send it for "material reclamation." Amazon recommends performing a factory reset or zeroing drives before sending them in, but this is not a prerequisite, especially for non-functional devices. Amazon also suggests checking its trade-in page first to see if any of your e-waste qualifies for a trade-in on other purchases since these two programs are different.
Both have been around for several years. Amazon launched its trade-in program in 2011, and the recycling initiative has existed since at least 2018. However, Amazon's recycling page is hard to find unless you already know about it. There are no direct links on the store website, and we could only find it by performing a search query on the customer service page.
The resulting recycling site is also hosted under the "amazonrecycling" domain name. Despite its difficulty to find it organically, once there, you will find a web form to fill out with the appropriate information, including name, address, email, and what devices are in the shipment. After registration, you will receive a shipping label to apply to the package.
The program is open to anyone, not just Prime members or Amazon customers, but it is not without limitations. Televisions, PC towers, or other large appliances do not qualify. However, Re-Teck accepts all the smaller obvious suspects like smartphones, e-readers, tablets, chargers, gaming consoles, controllers, keyboards, and other peripherals. Essentially, anything that can fit in a small box should be acceptable. However, the recycler will not take loose batteries or devices with leaking or swollen power cells.
Image credit: Jeremy Keith