5 top tips: What to do with old electrical appliances?

Millions of unused mobile phones, computers, laptops and game consoles are left languishing in drawers, cellars and attics. Often still fully functional, these devices have had to make way for newer versions, especially after Black Friday deals or Christmases and birthdays. Once taken out of use, the question of what to do with them remains. Here, you’ll find tips and advice on how to properly dispose of old technologies, as well as ways to breathe new life into them.

Get money for old devices

Smartphones, computers and digital cameras all sell well. This is very simple to do and many companies will let you send your old mobile phone, tablet or laptop to them and, depending on the condition of the device, will then transfer an agreed sum of money directly into your bank account.

These items are then cleaned, refurbished and upgraded if necessary and resold by the companies. Even if an old appliance was once very expensive, the amounts you’ll likely receive in return are not very high at all as the traders also want to make a profit.

Devices that no longer function properly are harder to sell as a whole but individual components may still have worth. There are a surprising amount of people looking for spare parts such as a graphics card or a CPU fan for their own computers. If you disassemble your equipment and sell the components separately you might find a few interested parties.

Recycling: environmentally friendly and sustainable

Old electrical devices should never be put in the household waste. The better and more environmentally friendly way to get rid of them is to recycle. Many manufacturers will replace defective devices if necessary, and in other cases the device may still contain recyclable materials such as rare metals which can be used during the production of newer technologies. ‘Passive devices’ such as antennas, adapters and cables are, since last year, also classified as electrical items and must also be disposed of accordingly.

Recondition or donate?

Many of the defects found in electrics can be easily repaired if you know how. For repairs, technical newcomers can find professional help in repair cafés. These are becoming increasingly more common and whether it’s a vacuum cleaner, mixer or electric toothbrush, these self-help workshops have volunteers on hand who are happy to offer help and advice.

If this seems like too much hard work, you could also donate your electronics. Social institutions and aid organisations are always happy to receive electrical devices which still work and can be reused.

Deleting personal data before passing on

Regardless of where old equipment is going, anyone selling, donating or exchanging theirs should make sure that no personal data is left on hard drives or memory cards before handing them over. It’s not enough to drag private files into the desktop recycle bin – data and passwords need to be removed either by formatting or through specialised deletion software. If you want to play it safe, you should remove the hard disk and destroy it altogether. Smartphones should be reset to factory defaults to delete files.

Retrofitting with new, sustainable technologies

When looking to buy a new device, make sure that a new purchase isn’t likely to end up in a cellar or closet after a short time because it’s no longer workable. New and innovative technologies often allow for energy-saving and environmentally friendly operation, especially in comparison to older electronics.

Also, pay attention to your safety. Old electronics are often no longer secure due to a lack of updates or outdated technology. It is best to ask the manufacturer to what extent the software updates will be supported in the future and whether an investment at this time makes sense.