It's a good idea to check with your state's environmental protection website to see what the laws are governing the disposal of e-waste. Many state governments are notorious for doing a poor job of providing much help online, though, so you can check the National Center for Electronics Recycling for a state-by-state guide to recycling laws and information. The United States Department of Environmental Protection has a similar page as well that is worth checking out. The EPA also has a page that helps in finding local electronics recyclers. And a website run by 1-800-recycling.com also offers state-by-state information for finding recyclers -- not just of electronics, but almost anything.
There may also be private recyclers near where you live which will accept or even pay for electronics to recycle. One problem with that, though, is that it's difficult for you to know whether they will recycle the electronics responsibly. A good place to find one is through e-Stewards, which sets high standards for electronics recyclers and certifies those that meet those standards.
Before you choose a local recycler, ask questions to see whether it meets appropriate standards, such as ensuring that all personal data is destroyed and following best management practices. The Telecommunications Industry Association has a list of questions to ask. You won't be able to check whether the answers are accurate, of course, but it should give you some idea of the company's practices.
If you're looking to recycle batteries and cell phones, call2recycle is a good bet. Head to its search page to find local places that recycle, such as electronics retailers, wireless stores, departments of public works and hardware stores.
Recycling through retailers
An excellent place to recycle is at electronics retailers. Many have comprehensive recycling programs (often dictated by state law) that let you bring your electronics to their retail locations. For the most part, the stores will accept products whether or not they were purchased there, and will recycle them for free. However, it's always a good idea to check a retailer's policy online before you go.
Best Buy, for example, accepts computers, printers, peripherals, TVs, DVD players, computer monitors, audio and video cables, cell phones and more. In some instances, you'll be able to trade in old electronics for a Best Buy gift card.
Staples also will accept electronics to recycle. Depending on what you're recycling, you may be able to trade it in for a Staples gift card.
At Office Depot, you can buy an electronics-recycling box ($5, $10 or $15, depending on its size), fill it with electronics, and bring it to the store.
Radio Shack has an electronics trade-in program that you can use either online or in-store. If the device that you want to trade in has no value, Radio Shack will still accept it and recycle it.
Recycling through manufacturers
You can also recycle old electronics through manufacturers. Dell, for example, has several electronics recycling programs. A good bet is Dell Reconnect, which lets you take your electronics -- any kind, not just Dell's -- to certain local Goodwill stores to be either refurbished and sold, or else recycled. You can also recycle any Dell product for free and have it picked up where you live or work. You print out a shipping label, package up the product, and FedEx will pick it up, or you can bring it to a FedEx Center. In addition, if you buy a new Dell computer, Dell will take back your old PC and monitor for free, no matter the brand.