If you’ve recently upgraded or replaced a broken or slow computer or laptop, you may be wondering what to do with your old one. Most people are aware that they cannot be tossed into the regular trash or a curbside recycling bin. Computers and laptops, along with tablets, and notebooks are considered E-waste and must be recycled properly. E-waste includes anything with a power cord or battery. Electronic waste contains hazardous elements that are harmful to our environment. While e-waste makes up 2% of our landfill waste, it is 70% of our toxic waste, making it vital that we responsibly dispose of our old computers.
We will cover some of the most convenient and accessible options for getting rid of your broken or old computer or laptop below. Depending on the condition of your computer, you may consider a donation or posting it for sale instead of recycling. Before we cover those options, we will discuss recycling.
Steps Before Recycling your Computer
Before you can take your computer to be recycled, you will want to be sure you have secured all of your personal information and removed all of the data.
Follow these steps:
- Backup your Computer-save onto a portable storage device such as an external hard drive or USB
- Wipe your Hard Drive-this goes beyond simply deleting files, consider a data shredding software program.
- Wipe External Drives-if any external hard drives or USB are connected they need to be wiped as well.
- Delete the Browsing History-select history in whatever browser you use and check all the boxes then delete.
- Uninstall Programs-make sure that all programs are uninstalled. Many software programs secretly save your personal data.
- Encrypt All your Files-sometimes wiping or deleting is not enough, so encryption is a great defense.
- Physically Damage your Hard Drive-if you are still very concerned or not convinced on the security of your data, you can physically drill some holes through or smash your hard drives.
Find A PC Recycle Center Near Me
Why can’t I just throw my computer away? Well, that’s because it contains hazardous waste, like heavy metals. And some of these metals are in short supply. Some examples are tin, silicon, iron, and aluminum. By 2009, 38% of computers were recycled in the United States. Computer recycling is considered environmentally friendly and keeps toxins and carcinogens from entering the atmosphere. Recycling one computer with its monitor can save 539 pounds of fossil fuel, 48 pounds of chemicals, and 1.5 tons of water.
Locate A Computer Disposal Facility In Your Area
Computer circuit boards may contain cadmium, mercury, chromium, and lead! The average monitor can contain anywhere from 1.5 to 8 pounds of lead. Circuit boards contain lead, as well. How is keeping one old computer, instead of recycling it going to affect the environment? One computer? In 2010, 71.7 million new laptops and desktop computers were purchased in the U.S. alone. In that year, those same consumers disposed of 423,000 tons of computers. And only 40% of those computers were actually recycled. The rest of them ended up in landfills. That’s not even including the 595,000 tons of computer monitors, of which only 33% were recycled.
Where To Get Cash For Recycling Your Computer and Electronics
Most computer equipment circuit boards contain small amounts of precious metals such as gold, platinum, silver, copper, nickel, and aluminum. Recycling centers will sometimes pay for these items so that these metals can be reclaimed from the circuit boards. In addition, by recycling you can also help to create new jobs. According to a study done by the Institute for Self-Reliance, for every 10 thousand tons of reused materials, 296 jobs are created.
It also helps reduce the amount of heavy metals found in landfills in the U.S., with computers and other e-waste having been reported to account for nearly 70%. In California alone, it is estimated that the average consumer has two to three computers lying around their home, yet they have no idea what to do with them once they are no longer in use. Now, just think about those numbers on a national scale. If everyone just threw them away, instead of simply taking them to a local computer recycling center near them, there would an environmental disaster that would take years to rectify.
Recycling just one computer can have a tremendous impact on lowering e-waste pollution. And by doing so, you can help to create more jobs and a cleaner environment. So, do everyone a favor and take that old PC or Mac to a nearby computer recycling center today. Computers are here to make our lives easier today, so don’t let them ruin our tomorrow.
Retailers that Accept Computers for Recycling
Many retailers accept smaller electronics such as cell phones and tablets, but fewer take computers and laptops. Best Buy and Staples are the two major retailers that come to mind when it comes to computer and electronics recycling.
Best Buy Computer Recycling
Computer recycling is free at all Best Buy locations. You are responsible for wiping all your data from your hard drive prior and keep in mind that they do charge $25 for any monitor to be recycled to cover their costs involved in recycling.
Staples Laptop Recycling
Staples technology recycling program accepts any computer regardless of the brand or where it was bought. Simply drop off your items at the front desk for free recycling, including monitors.
Manufacturer’s that Offer Recycling
A quick rundown of some companies that offer “takeback” programs or mail-in electronics recycling. These manufacturers have taken steps to offset the e-waste their products create. It is wise to take note of the names of these companies when preparing to purchase a new electronic device, as well. We might as well support those that are doing something to help the problem, not just profiting from it.
- Acer – has partnered with Best Buy and will reimburse Best Buy the cost of accepting and recycling their products when you drop it off through the Best Buy recycling program.
- Apple – their trade-in program for iPhones also extends to laptops and desktop computers. If there is value in it, they will send you an apple gift card. They also offer free recycling of any brand laptop, computers, and monitors.
- Asus – offers mail-in recycling of their products, and you can request a free shipping label online.
- Dell – will takes back any product for recycling with its name on it for free, including free shipping. They also are partnered with many Goodwill locations for e-recycling drop-offs.
- Lenovo – offers a mail-in program for all Lenovo and IBM computers.
- LG – offers a free takeback program that partners with certified e-stewards recyclers.
- Toshiba – takes back laptops and other smaller electronics through Dealtree, you must pay to ship your item, but they will also send you a check for the value of your recycled items.
- Sony – offers free in-store drop off for recycling PCs and laptops.
Community E-Waste Collection Events
Most cities or counties routinely offer electronics recycling events throughout the year. You can check your city or county website for details on when and where their next event will take place. There may be ads in the mail or even banners around your community promoting the next e-waste event. The recycling is free, and you are assured that your e-waste will be disposed of properly. They are usually held in a central and convenient location for quick and easy drop off of any home electronic waste. These programs are only for household waste, not businesses.
Donating your Old Computer
If your computer or laptop is in working condition, you should consider donating to a worthy cause close to your heart. A donation can be even better than recycling because the more extended use we can get out of an object, the better, it can still be recycled later after doing some good for people in need. Below is a shortlist of just a few well-known organizations that accept computer donations, you can also check with a shelter or charitable organization in your area.
Computers With Causes – will repair or refurbish your old computer equipment if it financially makes sense. Your donation is wholly tax-deductible.
World Computer Exchange – this is an international organization tied to over 450 partner organizations worldwide. They do have some criteria to meet to accept your donation.
Goodwill Organizations – collects, repairs, and then sells donated computers, and they also accept monitors. More substantial donations from businesses can arrange for pickup from Goodwill.
National Cristina Foundation – this is a wonderful organization that matches your or your business’s old computer equipment with a vetted charity organization focused on providing technology to underprivileged populations.
Computer Recycling Pickup
Many of the charitable organizations that accept electronics, including computers, may even offer free pickup of your items. If they do not directly provide pickup, they might be partnered with a company like Junk King or 1-800-GOT JUNK, who specialize in picking up your junk and responsibly recycling it. If you are short on time or can’t find an e-waste location or event nearby, this is another excellent option. For businesses with large quantities of computer equipment, there are also companies like Green Citizen that specialize in bulk recycling. They offer free pickup as long as there are at least ten qualifying items such as laptops or computers. It’s easy to set up and best of all, free.
Selling an Old Computer for Cash
Yet another option for your old computer is selling it yourself. Many times an older laptop is outdated for our use or our business, but it could suffice for another person or maybe serve a young person well as a first computer. Parents often don’t want to purchase an expensive brand new laptop for their child, but they need one for school. As long as your computer is functioning correctly, you should be able to find a buyer. You can use online marketplaces such as Craigslist or eBay, be sure you have encrypted and wiped all of your data before selling it. You do not want any of your data available and put yourself at risk for identity theft.