Tips for Reusing and Recycling Old Computer Equipment

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A computer disposed of improperly will end up in a landfill where toxic chemicals will eventually leach out into the soil. Do the right thing and recycle that old computer. Here are some tips for recycling old computer equipment.

Reuse Computer Parts Before Recycling

It is always a good rule of thumb to reuse before recycling. If your computer is still in good condition, consider reusing it. If you simply upgraded your old computer and it is still usable, give the computer to someone who will use it. Ask your friends and family if they have a use for the computer, or consider donating it to a charitable organization, such as a church or goodwill.

If part of the computer, such as the hard drive, has stopped working, reuse the parts of the computer that are working. The keyboard, mouse, and monitor are all good candidates for reuse because they are external computer parts and do not require the computer to be dismantled. These computer parts are also usually compatible with a other computers if the installation software and drivers are available. If you are technologically inclined, and understand the safety practices of dismantling a computer, you can also reuse the internal components of a computer by putting them to work in a different computer. For the more creatively minded, you can indulge in crafts using recycled computer parts.

Another way to reuse your old computer parts is to trade in the computer. Trade-In programs offer points or gift certificates in exchange for old computers and other technology. Environmentally conscious companies that accept the trade in will reuse the parts that are still in good working order, and recycle parts of the computer that can not be reused.

Resources for Recycling Old Computer Equipment?

If you live in the United States, Canada, or Mexico, e-Stewards can help you find an environmentally responsible recycler of electronics in your local area. This organization follows standards that do not involve the highly controversial practice of exporting hazardous electronics waste to other countries. Another resource to find a drop-off location for recycling old computer equipment is Earth911. Simply type in “computer” as the item for which you hope to find a recycling center, then type in your zip code.

If you are unable to locate a qualified recycling center near you, another option to recycle old computer equipment is to contact the manufacturer through the Electronics TakeBack Coalition. The majority of manufacturers (including, Acer, Apple, Dell, HP, and Toshiba), offer programs to take back old electronic equipment including computers. The take-back programs vary widely between manufacturer, offering everything from cash to discounts, or simply free shipping for disposal.

There are a variety of options to get rid of an old computer, but one thing is clear; It’s important not to throw it away. Recycling old computer equipment protects the environment, and keeps toxic materials where they belong, out of the soil and air.


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