Recycle small electronics for free through the USPS

While mailing a few holiday packages earlier in the week, I spotted these small recycling bags at my local US Post Office:

If you have small consumer electronics cluttering up a drawer or cupboard in your home, you can send them off to be recycled at no charge through the USPS in these postage-paid mailers. From the USPS website:

Mail it back with USPS! In select Post Offices, customers can get free mail-back envelopes for recycling inkjet cartridges, cell phones, PDAs, digital cameras and other small electronics.

If you’re heading to the Post Office to mail holiday presents, you might as well get some small electronics clutter out of your home and safely recycled for free. If your local Post Office doesn’t currently carry the bags, be sure to request them at the counter.

15 Comments for “Recycle small electronics for free through the USPS”

  1. posted by Charlotte K on

    Who benefits? I looked at the USPS site and couldn’t tell.

    They also say it’s “selected POs” only. Just fyi.

  2. posted by s on

    I’ve used Easy and you might even get money back.

  3. posted by Michelle on

    I wish Australia Post did something like that.

  4. posted by Adam on

    I would recommend bring in old ink cartridges to a place like staples, cause they give you 3 bucks a piece for them. Why not profit off recycling?

  5. posted by Erin Doland on

    @Charlotte — As we stated in the article, if your PO doesn’t carry the bags simply request that they start carrying them at the counter.

  6. posted by Shane on

    Thanks for the tip! I’ve been collecting a bunch of small electronic gizmos here now I can get rid of them.

  7. posted by infmom on

    I’ve been taking my ink cartridges to Office Max, but that was when I had an HP printer. I haven’t checked into whether they give you $3 credit for Canon cartridges or not.

    I mailed some old pagers with one of those post office envelopes last year.

  8. posted by marcelebrate on

    A wonderful idea and I’m happy that the USPS even foots the shipping bill.

    However, I’m equally curious to know where these electronics are recycled. I have a bad feeling it winds up in the toxic centers of India/China – where men, women and children are exposed to the dangerous chemicals in the things we’ve long since thrown out and forgotten:

    A good thing to be mindful of. Anyone know of responsible alternatives?

  9. posted by JBR on

    According to the press releases, USPS isn’t technically footing the bill for it. Postage is paid for by Clover Technologies Group, a “company that recycles, remanufactures and remarkets inkjet cartridges, laser cartridges and small electronics.” I didn’t do any additional research on the company, but they appear to be actually recycling, not just shipping the junk overseas.

  10. posted by JBR on

    Oh, and here’s the link:

  11. posted by WilliamB on

    What I know about post office policies prompts me to ask: do you have any reason to believe that asking a counter clerk will lead the PO to carry the mailers? For starters does the clerk have a way to convey the request (assuming he chooses to do so)?

  12. posted by Erin Doland on

    @WilliamB — In the past, every time I’ve asked for something at the counter at my Post Office, things have happened. For example, they don’t always carry all of the stamps the USPS is offering, and so I’ve asked at the counter and they have ordered them for me. Yes — I do expect the people at the Post Office to help when I ask them of something. They are also who recommended to me that I pass along the suggestion to you.

  13. posted by Thomas Drayton on

    You know that they are making huge money off these items they are supposedly disposing of for you, right?

    Ink cartridges you can refill with ink yourself and save huge $$$. Don’t toss them out, buy ink online and refill them, it’s easy.

    Cell phones, digital cameras, PDA’s etc? They are selling them in bulk to some place that will tear them down and sell off the parts. Sell yours online if it’s working or not. Somebody wants to use the parts to fix theirs if it’s broken and somebody else just wants it if it’s not broken!

    I used to buy truckloads of returned merchandise from B.B., fix it and resell it on eBay… I guess that’s a form of recycling, but it’s not what I bet you think it is.

    Thomas Drayton

  14. posted by Kai on

    It’s probably more worthwhile for them to repurpose and sell than it would be for me to go through the hassle. If it is reused, and at no cost to me, I have no trouble at all with someone making money on the resold items.

    This is cool – anyone heard of offers in Canada?

  15. posted by Ellen Delap on

    Thanks for sharing this! It makes it easy to do! that is when recycling really happens!

    For cellphones I have been using the free envelopes from http://www.cellphonesforsoldiers too. Another easy way to share and give back.

    hugs and happy organizing!

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