What Happens After You Recycle Your Tech?

You’ve just set up your new iPhone or laptop. You transfer all your data, all your photos and notes from two years ago, and your SIM card has been installed.  

But what do you do with your old piece of tech? After all, you can’t just throw it away! Or... can you? 

What is Tech Recycling? 

 Tech recycling, also called electronic recycling or e-waste recycling, is the process of disassembling and properly disposing of an electronic product. Electronic products can be anything from phones, tablets, computers, hard drives, video players, etc. After being disposed of properly, these electronic products are recycled, or repurposed for their materials.  

Why Should I Recycle My Tech?  

To save the planet, of course! 

Electronic products are all made from valuable resources like metals, glass and plastics. These materials take an extraordinary amount of power and energy to mine and manufacture. In fact, for a smartphone, researchers estimate that it takes roughly 1 gigajoule to create it. That’s 278 kilowatt hours, or 73 times the electricity used to charge that very same smartphone for an entire year. 

When you recycle your electronics, you’re helping to conserve our natural resources and avoid air and water pollution, as well as greenhouse gas emissions caused by mining and manufacturing virgin materials.  

For example, recycling one million laptops saves enough energy equivalent to the electricity used by over 3,500 US homes in a year. Recycling one million cell phones turns into 35,000 pounds of copper, 772 pounds of silver, 75 pounds of gold, and 33 pounds of palladium. These materials are then recovered and repurposed into something new. 

 Security Concerns 

When we imagine recycling, we tend to think of a large blue bin that gets picked up on trash day, and our recyclables are never to be seen again. 

News alert: tech recycling is different than normal recycling.  

Tech recycling involves security and data concerns. Afterall, a recycled laptop or phone was someone’s personal belonging at one point. We keep everything on our mobile devices: names, numbers, pictures, passwords, and even bank information. 

While data breaches tend to happen when network security is bypassed remotely, there is another form of breaching: physical attempts. Physical data attempts can occur while devices are in use, or most commonly, while devices are being collected for recycling. 66% of electronic thefts happen due to cargo theft. Electronics, being one of the top 6 global commodities, are a common target during transit.  

But not to fear! 

There are several security measures electronic recyclers have taken to ensure safe transit back to the facility in a secure manner. The first step is to work with a legitimate recycler. When working with genuine recycling facilities there will always be some sort of mechanical operation and secure infrastructure in place that dismantles devices, separates their components and hazardous materials, and finally, shreds them. After being shredded, the material is separated for a second time and then any commodities of value are then sent to manufactures and refineries for reuse.  

But what can you do before all of that?

Before You Recycle 
  • Go through and delete all personal information on your device. Manually delete what you can.  
  • Remove any batteries from your electronics, as these need to be recycled separately.  
  • Wipe your entire device clean. This can be found in your device’s settings.  
  • If your device is a computer, wipe the external drives and clean your hard drive.  
  • Find a legitimate recycler near you. (Hint: We’ll be telling you the best places to recycle tech in Idaho in our upcoming blog!) 

Next time you think about tossing that old iPhone in the trash, remember to delete any personal information and to recycle it instead.  


In Time Tec is an award-winning software development and IT company with locations throughout the USA and India. We are focused on #CreatingAbundance, and just happen to build software. For more information on our services and what our developers can do for you, visit www.intimetec.com today. 

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