Here’s What to do With Your Old Chargers and Cables

If you've got a collection of outdated chargers, cables or wires collecting dust, here's what you can do with them.

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Did you know that electronic waste is fastest growing waste stream globally? This is due to both the shortened lifespan of our electronic devices and societies demands for the newest high-tech products. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that only 15 to 20 percent of e-waste is recycled, the rest of these electronics go directly into landfills, incinerators and are illegally exported to developing countries.

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Common practice is to use an electronic device for a while and discard it once the new model comes out. Unfortunately, if the new model or device has a different charging port it renders your old collection of charging cables virtually useless. So what do you do when it’s time to clean out the drawer full of old, no longer relevant cables?

Retail Drop-Off

One of the easiest ways to recycle old chargers and cables is by taking a trip to your local Best Buy. Every Best Buy in the US has a kiosk for recycling electronics just inside the door. According to the Best Buy website, they accept “rechargeable batteries, wires, cords, cables and plastic bags.” Check out their website to see if Best Buy will accept what you want to recycle.

Recycle

When removed from the sheath, pure copper wire can be sold for salvage. It likely won’t be worth a fortune, but you can at least make some cash off old cables that you’re never going to use again. Any metal recycling center will accept your copper-cored wires, and will likely accept most of your small electronics, in addition to other wires and cables. You can also sell or recycle your used electronics.

Give to a Friend or a Family Member

Not everyone quickly upgrades computers or other electronics. So before discarding a giant collection of cables and chargers, make sure to ask your friends and family members if they might be able to use them. Additionally, with the exception of some Apple products, most home entertainment cords and cables can be used with other devices. So be sure to check their functionality before donating them.

Donate to STEM programs

Schools and many non-profits have STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) programs or projects that often use older technology. Your old cable cords, chargers and wires very well may not be so outdated for educational purposes. These programs appreciate electronic donations even if all you have is the odd power cord or old Ethernet cable that wasn’t quite long enough.

Learn what to do with your old cellphone here. And here’s what to do with your old computer.