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Computer Recycling

Properly Disposing of Older Computers and Parts


Image courtesy Kim Westerskov / Photographer's Choice RF / Getty Images


Over the years, tons of electronics equipment with hazardous materials have been thrown away with standard garbage. Over time, these materials leech out of the electronics causing damage to the environment. In order to try and reduce the threat, many local, state and federal governments are enacting legislation that requires proper disposal of old electronics including PCs, home electronics and mobile phones.

Most computer equipment becomes outdated anywhere from two to six years after its purchase. This puts a burden on consumers to try and properly dispose of old equipment lying around the house. So, what are the different avenues that we can use to get rid of all this equipment properly?

Government Programs

Many states have passed laws that prohibit throwing out electonics into the garbage. In addition to laws in these states, many cities and counties also have laws dictating the methods of electronic and computer disposal. It is important before throwing out any old computer parts or electronics to check with the appropriate government agencies to determine the proper methods.

The easiest method for determining the proper laws governing the region that you live in is to contact your local waste management company and local governments. Often government web sites will list the e-waste disposal rules under the terms "waste management", "recycling" or "environmental agency". Programs for disposal may be free or carry fees depending upon the item being turned in for disposal.

Manufacturer Recycling Programs

Many of the larger computer and electronics companies have begun offering recycling programs. Often these programs will take older computer parts in exchange for credits towards the purchase of new equipment from the manufacturer. Other programs may be a simple pickup and recovery service that they charge a small fee for. Be sure to check all of the details regarding the program with the company before using them. Some of the companies will simply refer the customer to the state disposal due to government regulation.

Here is a list of some of the recycling programs and information from various manufacturers:

Trade-Ins or Selling

With the rate at which some technology items are replaced, the older products might still be quite functional. In this case, it might be possible to recyle the item by selling ir or trading it in for credit against new products. This is especially true for products that have a quick turn over rate such as smart phones and tablets. Some of the manufacturer links above provide trade-in programs but you can also use third parties that might provide more for your trade-in. For more information about the possiblity of getting some cash or credit for your old tech, check out my Selling an Older Computer article.

Donating Old Equipment

Finally, if you would rather not dispose of the computer or electronics and want to offer them to people who have a need for the materials, there is the option of donating the equipment to a charity. There are a variety of charities that will take older computer materials and either use it in local facilities or process the items to be shipped overseas for use.

Be aware that many charities may have restrictions on the types of computers and electronics that are donated. Often times there will be a limit on how old the equipment can be as it will be considered antiquated and unsuitable for the charities purposes. While it used to be several years, many now will not take equipment more than a year old. Check with the charity to make sure that your equipment meets their standards. If it does not, then you will need to use a disposal or recycling service mentioned previously.

Check out this list of charities as some that accept older computers for donations.


While the amount of electronic materials that we produce as waste is growing, the means for properly disposing and recycling of these items is also increasing. Whether the equipment is disposed of through a government, corporation or charity, it is important to try and properly dispose of our old gear in order to prevent damage to our environment.

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