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April 22nd, 2014

How to recycle your old PCs and phones on Earth Day and everyday

At AVAST, our commodity is brain power and electronic bits and bytes, but we still do our part to preserve and protect the environment.

Recycle old computers and phones for Earth Day

A question that plagues companies like ours, as well as schools, small businesses, and countless households across the world is this:

When electronics get old or lose their usefulness, what do you do with them?

The electronic devices we depend on, like PCs, servers, and smartphones are manufactured from valuable resources and materials, including metals, plastics, and glass, that must be extracted and processed. Donating or recycling electronics conserves our natural resources and avoids air and water pollution.

Did you know?

  • The original owner keeps a laptop computer for only three years and will discard their cell phone after only 24 months.
  • Recycling one million laptops saves the energy equivalent to the electricity used by more than 3,500 US homes in a year. (EPA)
  • For every million cell phones we recycle, 35 thousand pounds of copper, 772 pounds of silver, 75 pounds of gold, and 33 pounds of palladium can be recovered.

Donate or Recycle: Where to take your old devices

It’s better for everyone if you can find a place that excepts a donation. Look for foundations and charities in your area – but realize that they don’t want to inherit a bunch of junk, so make sure it’s in good working condition. In the US, the National Cristina Foundation will put you together with organizations in your community that reuse technology for people with disabilities, at-risk students, and economically disadvantaged persons.

If you want to recycle, look for a reputable electronics recycling program. In the US, retailer Best Buy has a Recycling Program certified to e-Stewards standards. They even take large appliances. Manufacturers like Dell and Apple have their own programs, so look them up in your area.

Protect your security before donating or recycling

Your computer and phone are filled with personal and financial information. Since identity theft is one of the fastest growing cybercrimes, you must take precautions.

Wipe the data from your computer

To protect your privacy, we recommend that you remove all data from a computer hard drive before donating, selling or recycling. There are a number of ways to remove data from your hard drive including avast! DataShredder, a feature in avast! Premier. If there is data that you want to preserve, make sure you do a backup first. We have something that can help you with that too, avast! BackUp. :-)

Other methods include physically destroying your hard drive, which removes all data but also removes all reuse value. Degaussing or using a magnetic device to remove data is another way, but verifying data destruction with this method is often very difficult.

Wipe the data from your mobile device

You need to protect your privacy on your smartphones and tablets too. avast! Mobile Security’s anti-theft feature allows you to do a complete wipe remotely. You can also do it directly from the handset. Check with your manufacturer, but here are the basics:

  • Reset Android using the smartphone: Menu > Settings > Privacy or Backup & Reset > Factory Data Reset
  • Reset iPhone using the smartphone: Settings > General > Reset > Erase All Content and Settings > Erase iPhone
  • Reset iPhone using iTunes: Summary tab > Restore iPhone > Restore > Agree

Remove any batteries from your electronics because they may need to be recycled separately.

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