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  • Writer's pictureSecond Opinion Magazine

Bring Your Old Electronics to First Choice Recycling

As Americans, many of us love getting new electronics. The newest smartphone, smartwatch, laptop, tablet, TV, etc. “It’s getting slow / old / cracked / broken–time for a new one!” But what do you do with the old one? Many of those types of electronics have your personal data on them, but that aside, they are terrible for the environment. A much better place for your old electronics is right here in your figurative, not literal, backyard: First Choice Recycling.

First Choice Recycling, located off Park Ridge Drive in the middle of Eau Claire, is a great place to recycle all your unwanted electronics. Their mission is to “work with our customers and downstream vendors together in partnership to protect the environment to the best of our ability. Repair when possible, reuse when possible and always recycle responsibly.” 

First Choice goes above and beyond basic certifications and industry standards to make sure they are the most environmentally friendly electronics disposal facility possible. They are an AAA certified member of NAID, the National Association for Information Destruction, which means they continually undergo a rigorous process ensuring compliance with all the governmental regulations surrounding information security. Many disposal companies ship their electronics to other companies or even overseas. This means your data changes hands more than once after it leaves you, with a greater potential to be stolen. You also don’t know where your old device is going (perhaps just a landfill after all) or when it may or may not be destroyed. And it leaves an additional carbon footprint because of its extra travel. First Choice takes care of everything in-house.

According to Ralph Hutchens, First Choice Recycling’s CEO and partner, “Our number one goal is that data destruction is done correctly. People should be worried about how they are disposing of their data, especially in this age where people are out to steal information. We destroy any data collected here on site–that includes hard drives, cell phones, tablets, anything. You bring it in, it gets locked up, then we wipe the data, and shred the device here. It never leaves this building.”

First Choice is also extremely environmentally friendly. They are R2-v3 certified, which is the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) gold standard certification of best-practices for operational and environmentally minded electronics recycling and repair. Electronics and batteries do not break down in landfills. Instead, they leech acid and chemicals as they corrode, contaminating the groundwater. Hutchens states, “Nothing that enters First Choice Recycling ever goes on to a landfill. If we can’t repair or reuse an item, we repurpose as many parts of it as we can. If we can’t repurpose it, we recycle it–shred it and reintroduce it into the manufacturing stream as raw components of copper, plastics, glass, and freon. We divert millions of pounds away from landfills every year.” First Choice is audited several times per year to make sure they remain compliant with their strict certifications. Because of this, Hutchens feels confident in saying, “We are the greenest company in the Chippewa Valley.”

First Choice also accepts large appliances in addition to electronics. You can swing by to drop off your broken microwave or old washing machine six days a week, and they will even unload it for you. They take almost everything for free, with the exception of large exercise equipment and freon appliances such as refrigerators, for which there is a disposal fee. Additionally, all Eau Claire County residents can drop off any type of battery free of charge.

For more information about their best practices or items you can recycle at First Choice, visit their website at

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