What do I do with…?

4 Outdated Cell Phones


What is electronic waste? Any unwanted, unused, broken, or old electronic devices that the owner has decided no longer serves a purpose.

Why is electronic waste a problem?  The heavy metals found in electronics can cause toxic leaching when disposed of in landfills.

Examples: cell phones, computer monitors, computer towers, laptops, tablets, printers, fax machines, scanners, televisions


  • Consider doing outdoor recreational activity or reading a book from the library

  • Take advantage of publicly available electronics, like at the public library or at a UM computer lab (for UM students, faculty, & staff)

  • Get your electronics repaired when they break or malfunction, instead of buying new ones



(Call location to confirm their policies)

  • Oreo’s Refining- the only processor of e-waste this side of the divide

    • Fees apply for some items - computer monitors, electronic equipment (computers, phones, hand held devices, printers,faxes, misc. electronics)

    • NO CRT'S

    • Call for details on hard drive destruction with a certificate of destruction

  • Staples – office equipment under 60lbs

  • Target – MP3 players, cell phones, ink cartridges

  • P.E.T.E.S Electricfor a fee – computer monitors, electronic equipment (computers, phones, hand held devices, printers,faxes, misc. electronics), TV’S of all sizes

  • Best Buyfees may apply – TV & video devices, computers & tablets, cell phones & radios, appliances, ink & toner, audio devices, video games & gadgets, cameras & camcorders, car audio, video & GPS


Best Buy
2640 N Reserve St
(406) 829-0409

First Call Computer Solutions
500 N Higgins Ave #201
(406) 540-1969

Mcintosh & Goffe Electronics
4313 Lake Pl
(406) 251-4269

Oreo's Refining
(406) 369-0005

Stratton Electronics, Inc.
2120 Dixon Avenue
(406) 728-8855

P.E.T.E.S Electric
2407 Harve Ave W
(406) 543-3086

2640 North Reserve Street
(406) 728-9558

2420 N Reserve St
(406) 543-4000

More about electronics & e-waste

Computers, televisions, stereos, printers, cell phones and batteries are common electronic products that make up one of the fastest growing segments of our nation’s waste stream. According to the EPA, 438 million new consumer electronics were sold in 2009. Of those, 5 million tons were in storage (including junk drawers) and 2.37 million tons were ready for end-of-life management. Only 25 percent (of the 2.37 million) were collected for recycling, while the rest were dumped in the landfill.

Circuit boards, batteries, monitors, and Cathode Ray Tubes (CRTs) all contain heavy metals that when buried in a landfill can seep toxins into groundwater or be released into the air, poisoning the land and the community. Montana currently does not have legislation requiring electronic equipment be recycled or banning electronics from landfills.

So what can you do with e-waste?

The first step is to evaluate your e-waste. Is it repairable? A number of Missoula businesses repair cell phones, computers, and other devices. If the device is still in working order, consider donating it. Many great organizations help people in need stay in contact with donated cell phones or computers. Finally, if it is beyond repair or reuse, recycle responsibly.

Resources recovered in e-waste are valuable. Reclaiming these materials saves energy, reduces greenhouse gas emissions and ultimately reduces demand for virgin materials. According to the EPA, recycling one million laptops saves enough energy to power 3,657 US homes for one year.

However, some e-waste recyclers simply ship waste to other countries where cheap labor, often by children, is used to take apart circuit boards and burn off plastic on electrical cords to harvest copper wire. Make sure that your e-waste recycler is committed to ethical practices.

Most people are aware that CRTs are outdated (and ugly), but who knew that they would pile up in enormous heaps of unusable toxic waste? The CRT from one 27-inch TV includes about seven pounds of lead--two pounds more than the average house painted with lead paint in the 1970s!

Until recently, a few big smelters recovered materials from CRTs, but they’ve been slowly shutting down as markets for the resulting materials have dried up. Previously, these materials were used to make new CRTs, but no one wants those anymore. Montana is one of the only states that still allows CRTs to be put in a landfill. You can take your old CRTs to our local recycling centers, but they will charge you a bit to take them. Hopefully someday the materials will be recoverable.

~From Sustainable Business Council. Moving Missoula Toward Zero Waste Guide. 2015.