How to Recycle Computers
While all of the components of a computer are made of different materials and require diverse disposal efforts, they can be recycled through a variety of drop-off locations and take-back programs.
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Frequent Computer Recycling Questions
Where do I recycle my computer?
When you’re ready to get rid of your old computer, you have a variety of choices:
- Find your closest local recycling options.
- Check with your computer’s manufacturer, or the retailer you purchased it from to see what kind of take-back or trade-in options might be available.
- Donate your computer (any brand, in any condition) to Goodwill, who in partnership with the Dell Reconnect Program refurbishes and recycles computer equipment.
Do computers contain dangerous materials?
Many laptops have a small fluorescent lamp in the screen that contains mercury, or use lithium-ion rechargeable batteries. Also, lead is present in CRT computer monitors. Circuit boards can also include mercury, lead and cadmium, as well as batteries made of mercury and mercury switches.
These materials cause harm to the environment if they are mismanaged or disposed of in improperly lined landfills, which means it is important to find a responsible recycling solution when you’re ready to get rid of your old computer equipment.
Why can’t I throw my computer away in the trash?
Recycling your electronics helps ensure many valuable materials like plastic, aluminum, copper and gold do not go to waste. But just as importantly, it is also providing the important benefit of keeping some of the less desirable materials found in computers such as mercury, lead and other heavy metals out of our natural environment.
Are there any laws about throwing away computers?
Computers can contain materials that are hazardous to the environment if disposed of improperly.
State regulatory requirements for e-scrap can be more stringent than the Federal requirements, and vary from state to state.
Check relevant state requirements via your local household hazardous waste facility.
Do any manufacturers or retailers take back computer monitors for recycling?
Yes, lots of them! Many manufacturer-sponsored programs will accept and process their brand for free. Some accept other brands for trade-in or a small fee.
- Circuit City
- Best Buy
- Staples – Accepts computers, monitors, laptops, desktop printers, faxes and all-in-ones
- U.S. EPA Plug-in Partners – Lists manufacturers, retailers and service providers that offer recycling of e- waste
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