Q: Should all electronics be recycled?

A: Yes—if you can’t donate them. The first thing to do with e-waste—a common name for all of those unwanted TVs, computers, phones, VCRs and other electronics—is to see if someone else might want them. Schools, libraries and charitable organizations like Goodwill and the Salvation Army may take newer models in good working condition.

If you can’t find a new home for the e-waste, then definitely recycle it. Electronics are made from hundreds of materials. Many of these contain toxic heavy metals like lead and mercury and hazardous chemicals, such as flame retardants. It’s illegal in California to dispose of these materials in the trash, and recycling your electronics will keep these materials out of our natural environment.

Luckily, it’s easy. LA Sanitation has seven SAFE Centers located throughout the City that accept e-waste. Los Angeles residents are limited to a total of six pieces per visit. Put small devices like cables, cell phones, hard drives, modems and computer mouses in a single box and they’ll be considered one item.

In addition, some box stores, such as Best Buy and Staples, will recycle your electronics for free. Give the company a call to see what they will accept.

And when you’re thinking about recycling, don’t forget the batteries. They contain trace amounts of mercury and other potentially toxic stuff.

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