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What Can You Recycle at Target?

Wondering how to get rid of your old, expired car seat? Did you know Target has an electronics trade-in program? Read on for details about Target’s free car seat recycling program, its electronics trade-in program, and other things you can recycle at Target. They’ve got a few more ways to keep things you no longer need out of the landfill.

Heads up: The next Target car seat recycling event takes place September 11-24, 2022, at Target stores around the United States.

Target’s Free Car Seat Recycling & Trade-in Program

It’s a bittersweet day when our kids outgrow their car seats. Most of us can’t wait to get those crumb-filled, bulky baby thrones out of our cars. But what do we do with them when we no longer need them? Expiration dates and unknown accident history make it hard to donate car seats safely. Do we just throw them in the trash?

To help well-intentioned parents keep waste out of landfills, Target offers a free car seat recycling service. The company hosts events a couple of times per year to collect old car seats in exchange for 20% off coupons.

The coupons only apply to purchases of new car seats, strollers, and select baby gear, so we don’t all need the trade-in benefits. But at the very least, it’s great to have a free car seat recycling program available in so many places around the United States.

Additionally, you can always pass along the coupon to a friend or neighbor. Maybe you could even offer it up in your Buy Nothing group?

Image via Target

According to Target’s website, they partner with their waste management provider to recycle the car seat materials to create new products such as pallets and plastic buckets, and construction materials such as steel beams and carpet padding. To date, they’ve recycled almost 2 million car seats! That’s a lot of waste that didn’t end up the landfills.

Check out Target’s website for its next Car Seat Recycling Event and find a store to recycle your car seat with this search tool.

Get Paid Using Target’s Electronics Trade-in Program

Until recently, I didn’t even know Target had an electronics recycling program. It’s called the Target Tech Trade-in program, and it’s a partnership with Assurant (the same company that owns uBreakiFix which I shared about in 5 Ways to Reduce E-Waste). At certain Target stores, you can bring select used electronics into the store to recycle in exchange for a Target gift card.

How does the Target Tech Trade-in program work?

Target has a full FAQ for the tech trade-in program, so you can check the help site for specific questions. But they state the following with respect to the general process of how to work through the trade-in process.

  1. Visit tradein.target.com or the Electronics department at participating Target locations to get started with your trade-in.
  2. Search our trade-in catalog for the item you’re looking to trade.
  3. Answer a few quick questions about the condition of your item.
  4. If you accept the trade-in quote, you’ll receive an email that includes a printable prepaid USPS shipping label and instructions for preparing your item for shipment.
  5. You’ll need to ship your device using your own packing and shipping supplies.
  6. Receive your Target eGiftCard after our processing facility completes the review and quality assurance processes.

What types of electronics does the Target Tech Trade-in program accept?

Here is a list of items the Target Tech Trade-in program currently accepts:

  • Mobile phones
  • Tablets
  • Wearables
  • MP3 players
  • Video games & consoles
  • Hearables (that integrate a speaker and microphones)
  • Smart speakers

Before heading into the store with your electronics for trade-in, you can search online to see how much Target thinks they might be worth. Some of these used electronics command a pretty decent trade-in value. I checked out my old smartphone (that’s at least three years old). The trade-in site estimated I could get almost $100 for this old hunk of metal and plastic that doesn’t serve me at all. Not too shabby.

If you have old electronics you’re no longer using (that definitely don’t belong in landfills), check out the trade-in program to see if you can make a few dollars on something you weren’t using anyway.

What Else Can You Recycle At Target?

If you visit Target, you’ve probably seen the colorful recycling bins at the front of each store. Target uses these bins to host other recycling programs as well.

Recycle Glass, Plastic, and Aluminum at Target

Like many public spaces and some curbside recycling programs, Target accepts glass, plastic, and aluminum in a standard, mixed-stream recycling system. People probably don’t save up their recyclables and bring them into the store for this container, but it’s helpful to have them in the store when needed.

Recycle Plastic Bags and Similar Plastic Film Products at Target

Some Target stores offer single-use plastic bags in stores while others no longer offer these due to local regulations on single-use plastic items. As an eco-nerd, you can probably surmise that I’m a fan of single-use plastic bag regulations. In most cases, we really don’t need them. Instead, we need a culture shift to one where everyone brings their own bags and reuses things they already have.

Whether they issue them or not, Target stores collect these plastic bags for recycling. According to the Target website, they mix these plastic bags with shrink wrap from their inventory packaging for large-scale recycling. Thus, it’s fair to assume you can drop clean plastic film products in this recycling bin as well. Plastic bags and plastic films are types of plastic that can jam standard plastic recycling machines and processes but are recyclable when handled properly.

It’s best to reuse all the plastic bags many times before tossing them in any trash or recycling system. The most sustainable thing we can do is use what we already have before sending anything to be transported, processed, and downcycled into new materials.

But when they do reach the end of their useful lives as plastic bags, they can be downcycled into things like park benches, playground materials, and other plastics. That’s definitely a better alternative than sending them to landfills or leaving them around town to pollute our ecosystems and eventually wash out into rivers and oceans.

Recycle Small Electronics and Ink Cartridges at Target

Lastly, you can recycle cell phones and ink cartridges at Target. By all means, drop your ink cartridges in these bins instead of trashing them. But before dropping any devices in the bin, check the Tech Trade-in program I mentioned above. Those devices might be worth something.

If they are too old or too broken to garner value as a trade-in, then it’s a great option to put them in these electronic waste recycling bins so they can be recycled responsibly. In most cases, someone can use the parts or materials in a recycling or repurposing system.

On a side note, be sure to reset the devices to wipe clean any personal information on them. I suspect Target’s outsourcing partner clears devices of personal information before refurbishing or doing much with them other than dismantling them for parts and materials. But it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Recycle Alkaline Batteries Elsewhere

While you can toss lithium-ion batteries (like those in your cell phone) into the bin, Target does not accept regular alkaline batteries. Instead, check out this way to recycle your alkaline batteries while also sequestering carbon from the atmosphere.    

Have you ever used one of Target’s recycling programs? If so, what did you drop in the recycling bins?

Jen Panaro

Jen Panaro, founder and editor-in-chief of Honestly Modern, is a self-proclaimed composting nerd and advocate for sustainable living for modern families. To find her latest work, subscribe to her newsletter, Stepping Stones.

In her spare time, she’s a serial library book borrower, a messy gardener, and a mom of two boys who spends a lot of time in hockey rinks and on baseball fields.

You can find more of her work at Raising Global Kidizens, an online space to help parents and caregivers raise the next generation of responsible global citizens.

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