Safely Disposing of Electronic Components

How would one properly get rid of old electronic components (motors, motor controllers, old control system parts, etc)? The team has accumulated quite a stash of things that no longer work or are old/worn enough to be deemed unfit for use, but I don’t think it’s good practice to just throw that kind of thing in a normal trash bin.

Check with your local city/county. I know my city has a “fall cleanup drive” every year where you can take just about anything and have it disposed of properly for a nominal fee ($35 per carload this past year, I think). Sometimes large organizations will do something similar as well - I got rid of an old big screen TV ~10 years ago that way!

Other than what Jon has suggested, search for “electronic recycling” in your area. If you know of any companies manufacturing electronic equipment near you, ask them where they send their scrap.

Also talk to your county waste disposal place…ours has a bin for recycling electronic stuff, I think it’s free to put stuff in there.

I like to take things apart, and sell scrap steel, aluminum, coppper, etc separately. But I seem to acquire LOT of “stuff”…back around 2010, I hauled over 50,000 lbs of scrap metal off my property.


Recycling of electronics is free in our township.
It just has to be taken to a central collection dropoff.

Chicago has a specific recycling law and the towns surrounding Chicago have adopted slightly different laws. In the town that I live in, electronic devices may not be disposed of in the standard garbage pick up or in recycling. You can drive (about 20 minutes from my house) to a recycling center on Saturday mornings and they will remove items from your car and sort them as they take them. There are other locations that set up at local parking lots (like the Metra Lot in Mt. Prospect) on certain Saturdays. Check your local government for electronic recycling in your area. There are only certain centers that can take old TVs for instance. The website should have a list of approved items for recycling. Robot batteries can usually be recycled at battery centers like Batteries and Bulbs, etc. Check with the custodial staff at your school, they can tell you where they take their batteries for recycling. Often the recycler will take them for free.
And just to be sure, if you are getting rid of old computers or hard drives, make sure the drives are wiped with DOD (Dept of Defense) erasure software. My Norton antivirus has a built in routine for wiping drives. Be aware, the bigger a drive, the longer it will take to wipe (hours to over night).

Just to be ornery, I’d like to know exactly how they define “electronic devices”. A chunk of galena can be a diode, after all…

Our school has a big dumpster for an ongoing metal collection fundraiser. Batteries, motors, wire are all good there and are appreciated. Outdated but functional electronics go to our middle school “farm club” program. Eventually everything breaks and we do have an electronics recycling place nearby. They charge a small fee but are doing a good service and deserve the few dollars it costs to recycle the difficult stuff like computer monitors.

Here is the site link for electronics in my area. It is for the Solid Waste Agency of Northern Cook County.