Technology is advancing at such a rate that it seems like electronic gadgets are superseded by the time you walk out of the store. With the useful life of electronics becoming progressively shorter and the rate of new technological advances steadily increasing, electronic gadget disposal is becoming a very real problem.

In fact, CNet reported on figures released by the Consumer Electronics Association which indicate that the average American household contains 24 electronic gadgets. That’s a lot of gadgets that need to be disposed of when they reach the end of their useful life.

Electronic Gadget Disposal

Electronic Gadget Disposal after Past Its Salvage Value

Salvage Value Explained

The salvage value of an item is largely an accounting term, used to refer to the amount that an item can be sold for once it has reached the end of its useful life. When it comes to electronic gadgets, however, the salvage value is often so low that it is treated as negligible.

From an accounting point of view, this means that electronic gadgets purchased for business use will be depreciated down to zero; and from a practical point of view, it means that gadgets need to be properly recycled rather than resold, since they very likely have only a small or even zero value.

The Problem With Reselling Electronic Items

In addition to the practical matter that electronic gadgets can potentially have no resale value at the end of their useful life, another problem arises in relation to the resale of electronic items. Anything electronic will invariably contain data, and very likely data that is sensitive. Would you want a random stranger who buys your old cellphone to have access to all of the data stored on your old cellphone?

Legacy Data Risk: Why Data Wiping Won’t Help

You may think that you can solve this problem by performing a factory reset on your old cellphone or other electronic gadget. Unfortunately, data deletion tools and factory resets do not permanently and irretrievably delete data. If anything, deleting data simply makes the data “hidden” from the gadget’s file directory and harder to access, but it certainly does not make it immune to the efforts of a talented hacker.

Imagine a stranger looking through your search history, scrolling through your text messages, and swiping through your photos, and you’ll understand the problem with reselling electronic items. The small salvage value that you may get from your unwanted electronic device will surely not be worth the risks associated with others having full access to your sensitive data.

Options for Disposing of Electronic Waste

Thankfully, there are other options.

E-Waste Disposal

E-waste disposal is an excellent and entirely foolproof way of discarding unwanted technology. The beauty of e-waste disposal (electronic gadget disposal) is that, not only is the data from your device wiped, but the device itself is irrecoverably destroyed. If the electronic gadget has been used for business purposes or contains particularly sensitive information, e-waste disposal should be your only option.

Manufacturer Returns

Some manufacturers have established in-house recycling programs, and will accept returns of their old products. Some manufacturers will charge you to recycle your unwanted equipment, like Canon, whereas companies like Apple offer rewards in the form of gift certificates in certain circumstances. Dell, Samsung, and Sony will allow you to print a shipping label so that your shipping costs are covered.

Donation

Certain charities request donations of electronic gadgets in good working order, which will then be either refurbished and donated to the needy, or resold to others to raise money. Of course, you will need to ensure that the gadget has not been used for business purposes and does not contain particularly sensitive information before donating your gadgets, as the information could potentially be recovered. Visit Recycling For Charities, Hope Phones, and Free Geek to find out more.

The decision of how to dispose of an unwanted electronic gadget largely depends on what the gadget has been used for, and whether it contains sensitive information. Always keep in mind that the person who ends up with your gadget could potentially recover any information that has been stored on it. If that thought sits well with you, go ahead and look into reselling or donating your items. But if that thought fills you with dread, your only option should be e-waste disposal.

Are there any electronic gadget disposal options that we’ve missed? Please let us know in the comments below, and remember to share this article.

Resources