Recycling Know No’s: Household Electronics 

March 26, 2024

By Liz Antanavica, DPW Trash & Recycling Administrator

From TVs to laptops, cell phones to VR headsets and even your rechargeable stick vacuum, the world is full of electronic gadgets designed to make our lives easier or more entertaining. More and more these devices are now cordless, which means battery-powered. What you may be missing is that improperly disposing of e-waste, especially those with Lithium batteries, can be both harmful to the environment and even dangerous for you and your family. 

If your device plugs in or recharges, it’s electronic. Even something as simple as a vacuum cleaner has become more sophisticated in recent years. Residents are urged to err on the side of caution and responsibly recycle all corded or rechargeable household items at an e-waste special collection event or other local electronics recycling facility. 

Common types of e-waste that are often mistakenly thrown in the trash or recycling cart include:

  • Battery-powered or rechargeable toothbrushes and shavers
  • Cordless “stick” vacuums
  • Small photo printers or other Bluetooth accessories
  • Battery-powered children’s toys
  • “Disposable” vape pens***

***Vape pens, or e-cigarettes, pose a special kind of problem from a waste management perspective. These devices are part electronic gadget, part battery and part controlled substance. Devices containing any e-liquids or e-juices must be disposed of as hazardous waste. Remove the battery, if possible, before delivering to a Hazardous Waste Facility or DEA Drug Take Back Day. Never discard e-cigarettes in the trash, even those labeled as single-use or disposable. 

Battery fires have become common place at recycling and waste facilities due in part to the popularity of lightweight, cordless household appliances. Rechargeable batteries should never be thrown in the trash. Discontinue use of any battery that has become hot, damaged or swollen. 

The Massachusetts Department of Fire Services and the State Fire Marshall’s Office urges residents to manage battery devices safely, both during use and at the end of life. Watch this quick video for more battery safety tips: https://youtu.be/-2Rpx3P0ifc

How to properly recycle electronics:

     • Item in good working condition? Consider donating or reselling items you won’t use. Secondhand stores, such as Tradeland, or local non-profit organizations such as Household Goods Inc., can often accept working electronics and small household appliances. Check the website before dropping off to make sure they accept your items.

     • DPW hosts free electronics recycling events twice a year for Bedford residents. Join us on Saturday, May 4, at the Compost & Recycling Center. More details available on the Town Website at https://www.bedfordma.gov/809/Special-Collection-Events

     • Batteries that have been separated from their devices can be dropped off at the Universal Waste Shed at the Compost & Recycling Center year-round. The site is open every Wednesday and Saturday (8 a.m. to 1 p.m. – Bedford residents only) 

     • Staples and Best Buy offer e-waste recycling in their stores year-round. Check retailer website before dropping off to make sure your item is accepted. 

     • Use the Waste Wizard tool at https://www.bedfordma.gov/478/Trash-Recycling for item-specific guidance on proper disposal options. 

Additional questions can be directed to Liz Antanavica, DPW Trash & Recycling Administrator at 781-275-7605 or [email protected].

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