How Do I Recycle My Cables and Cords?

By Irene A. Blake

Broken, old or unused cables and power cords make up part of the electronics waste, or e-waste, in landfills that damages the environment and human health. They take up too much space, become tangled around or inside of animals and release toxins as they break down. Many options exist to put cables and cords back into use as either re-used parts or materials for new products. Treat them like any other used goods that you don't need or want and offer them to others for a price, give them away or use responsible disposal methods.

Sell or Trade Them

Instead of buying new cables or cords when existing ones wear out or break, many people buy or trade for used ones to save money or because they’re using older technology and can’t find what they need inexpensively or through retail stores. To recoup some of the money you invested in these items, post ads through online classified ad and trade/barter websites -- such as Craigslist, Backpage, Swap Treasures, Love2Trade, Tradeaway and Trashbank -- or sell them through yard and garage sales. Besides offline sales, you can also post your items on yard sale group and profile pages on social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter and Yahoo Groups.

Check Out Company Programs

Many companies -- such as cable and cord manufacturers, Internet and cable service providers, electronics, computer and office supply stores and repair shops -- offer recycling programs to prevent e-waste from being tossed into landfills. A lot of companies, especially manufacturers and retail stores, give consumers incentives to recycle like cash back and discounts. Typically, they at least provide free shipping labels or local e-waste recycling drop-off bins and dumpsters. Internet and cable companies sometimes take extra industry-related cables or cords when you’re getting repair service from or returning equipment to them.

Give the Items Away

If you can’t sell or trade your cables or cords, repurpose them by donating them to charitable organizations, churches and schools. In some cases, you might be able to write off the donation for a small amount at tax time. Additionally, consider offering them for free online. Classified advertising sites have free items categories where you can post ads and you can also post free item ads on social networks. Many sites dedicated to giving away free items also exist, including Freecycle, FreelyWheely, Trashnothing.

Use Government Recycling Options

If you have broken or non-working cables or cords and can’t find a company to help you dispose of them, don’t throw them in the trash! Many state and local governments have special e-waste disposal rules or charge a fine when consumers don’t recycle. Contact your local municipal waste, township or environmental health office to determine if there is a local e-waste program you can use. In some areas, you might have to pay a fee for disposal or drop off the items instead of leaving them to be picked up with other types of waste at curbside.