Once something is broken or no longer of any use, it usually ends up in the garbage. So when your old cellphone finally takes its last breath, should you toss it in the bin along with the leftovers? No! Sure it's easy enough to sneak in an old phone with your daily trash intake to the curb, but that decision could cost the environment more than you think.
Any of electronic that winds up in a landfill will eventually end up leaking toxic substances shortly after being dumped. These are types of elemental toxins that don't go away and aren't easily cleaned up by a natural solvent like water. Chemicals such as lead, cadmium, arsenic, mercury and so on are inside of these old electronics (phones, computers, rechargeable batteries, etc.) and if somehow these electronics are burned – it can release halogenated dioxins and furans. If these toxic chemicals are released, it can cause severe environmental damage as well as internal damage to a person if they come into contact with it. While in the working electronics, these chemicals are safe and not a danger to the user, but once they're broken, and the contents are freed when there is danger.
There are ways to safely dispose of your electronics without the risk of causing any potential harm to the environment or other people. The first thing you can do would be to attempt to have the item refurbished and re-sold. This benefits everyone, and everything involved usually; you as the seller get a small portion of your money back for the busted electronic, the buyer now gets to repurpose device and may even make a profit off that, and the device has found new life and won't end up in a dump somewhere.
Another great option is recycling your electronics in the proper channels. The fact that nearly 100% of electronics tossed are recyclable should be enough to keep that blue bin close! Actually, if say a few hundred thousand cell phones were to be recycled, that could merit in quite a few pounds of gold and silver. Over the course of just a year, it's been estimated that Americans toss out about $60 million when they discard their electronics.
Now if all else fails and you just have to dispose of these old electronics, it's best to check with your local county codes or city government. See when there are designated disposal days for various items or check in with a local electronic waste management team to come up with the right solutions for your busted electronics.