Costco has had an electronics recycling program for a couple of years now. But previously, it had gotten pretty bad reviews with people complaining about the amount of trouble it took to actually recycle and the wee litle amount of cash they got for their items in the end. So, the new and improved program is run by Gazelle and has a few changes to make it, hopefully, a little easier and better for those looking to recycle.
Here’s a little blurb about Gazelle from their co-branded site with Costco:
Gazelle is the nation’s largest reCommerce company, providing a practical, responsible, rewarding way for consumers to get value for used electronics. Today, we accept products across a wide range of categories and have found a new home for more than 20,000 used electronics, while responsibly recycling thousands more.
So, the Gazelle program works like this: you get an offer from the website, they send you boxes and pay shipping for your electronics items to be shipped to them, and in return you’ll get a Costco Cash Card; every item gets you some cash they say (but really, really old stuff won’t in actuality). Gazelle also has a network of recycling centers around the US for heavy or awkward things that would be silly to ship, like a big CRT monitor. If you have something smaller, however, they will send you boxes and pay for return shipping. Which I really think is a great deal; they are totally paying for you to be environmentally responsible and then giving you more money on top of it. Since some of the items are sold on to a new consumer, instead of just being destroyed, they make sure to wipe all personal data and information. That’s a great deal if you’re not very technically savvy and aren’t sure how to do this.
Gazelle recycles all kinds of consumer electronics: cell phones, MP3 players, GPS units, digital cameras, laptops, monitors, PDAs, camcorders, gaming systems, external hard drives, Blu-Ray players, LCD monitors, desktop computers, calculators, and more. So, all those little electronics things that you don’t know what to do with but want to get rid of, now you know where you can send them.
To figure out how much you can earn for recycling your electronics, you can go through the interactive search to find your item. Then you answer some questions about the shape that the item is in (does it power up, have damage) and which if any accessories you have (like power cords, cases, etc). After you answer those questions, you click the big red ‘Calculate’ button to figure out how much they’ll give you and if you’re good with the price, click the ‘Add to the Box’ button and you’ll lock in that price and be half way to getting rid of your old electronics. Now, obviously, the price they are willing to give you is dependent on how old the item is, the shape it is in, and if you have the accessories or not.
The good news is that for those bulky items that would cost a fortune to ship, you can drop them off at a local recycling center. The bad thing I see about dropping off your big items, is that some of the recycling centers actually charge you a fee for these items. CRT televisions and monitors seem to be particularly prone to this. One recycle center in Texas charges $20.00 to recycle a CRT television! It would be great if Costco would set up free recycling centers at each of their warehouses where you could drop off your big items without being charged, and then you could get a Costco cash card and immediately do some shopping with it.
If you’ve still got questions about how the process works, how they figure out what they’ll pay you, or when you’ll get your box or payment, they have a very helpful FAQ page that should answer your questions. If you’ve still got questions after reading through all of that, you can talk to a customer service rep via live chat.
So, now you’ve got no excuse to have all those old cell phones and electronics hanging around the house. They’ve made this as easy as possible, and pretty lucrative too. Go recycle something!