How to Discard Old Electronics and Computer Components Safely

How to Discard Old Electronics and Computer Components Safely
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Discarding Old Computer Components

This next article will discuss what you can do to discard computer components properly after upgrading. Or, if your only option is to completely replace your computer, here is what you can do instead of simply throwing your computer with the rest of your garbage.

According to the Stop Computer Landfill website (, computers contain a specific amount of chemicals, that if there was any excess leakage, it would not only be damaging to the environment, but to one’s health as well.

They estimated that between 1997 and 2004, more than 315 computers became obsolete in the United States alone. That can do a lot of damage if not properly disposed. Stop Computer Landfill lists a lot of different dangerous chemicals that can be found, such as hexavalent chromium, cadmium and even lead. Considering the large amount of computers that make their way in landfills each year, the damage combined by those chemicals is devastating. Yikes.

Programs to Help Discard Old Equipment Safely

There are several programs that offer to recycle electronics, some of which are even available in certain retail outlets. For example, in Canada, Future Shop has some Green Boxes with which you can use to recycle old cell phones, stereos, radios, batteries, and a lot of other items that could really damage the environment if simply tossed into the trash. Certainly, finding outlets where you can dispose your computers can be tricky if you live in a small town, particularly if you have to drive a distance to get rid of a computer. In that case, why not look into other old electronics you have hanging around that you don’t need as well? Clear up some clutter by discarding some of your old phones, VHS or DVD players, computer monitors, and the like.

Sometimes the incentive to recycle is slim to none, because on top of finding an outlet, you may have to pay a processing fee. It’s not all that appealing, but it is the recommended route instead of just tossing it to be processed at a landfill. Spending some extra money to help preserve the environment is never a bad idea. Some companies are now accepting old machines that you’ve purchased from them in the past. Apple, HP and Dell are starting to jump on the e-recycling bandwagon. It never hurts to ask computer manufacturers what their policy is on taking back obsolete machines.

Donations would also be useful. Check out if there’s anyone in your community, or perhaps any other organization looking for computer donations. Some organizations are happy to take computers that you are no longer using. A number of these companies will take those computers and refurbish them. Others may want to use it as is.

There are numerous websites that explain more about recycling electronics. Another good one is the Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition ( They even have statistics regarding how many computers grow obsolete each year, and how only 10% of those electronics are actually recycled. They even go into detail about where your computer is exported should you just throw it away with the rest of your trash.

While you can do your part at home and recycle the one or two old computers that you have, you can even do your part in the workplace. The next article in this series will discuss how you can get involved with a workforce that uses a network of computers. How are older machines dealt with - by upgrading, recycling, or discarding?

This post is part of the series: Reduce e-Waste by Upgrading or Recycling

This series discusses how upgrading certain components of your computer will help prevent their unnecessary disposals. Benefits of upgrading will not only be easier on your wallet, but on the environment as well. Finally, the concept of recycling unwanted computers will also be discussed.

  1. The Benefit of Upgrading Computer Components Instead of Fully Discarding
  2. Discarding Your Old Computer or Electronic Equipment
  3. Upgrading Old Computers in Your Office or Workplace