How Computer Recycling Works

how computer recycling works
By Greg Whitburn

When it's time to upgrade your computer, it's important to take a little effort to find a good computer disposal and recycling service.

Many areas will have a national computer recyling day, sometimes also called an E-day, where people can drop off old computers and peripehrals for recycling. The old computers are then picked up by a local computer recycler and disposed of appropriately.

The computers can be taken apart and many parts can be used in other systems, or sent on to a specialized computer recyling service center to be broken down and reconstitued.

Why bother with Proper Computer Disposal & Recycling?

Computers contain a myriad of chemicals and toxins, which, if not recycled, generally end up in landfill. Once in landfill, these chemicals leach into the soil and have the potential to contaminate nearby land, vegetation, and waterways.

Some of the common toxic chemicals found in computers and computer parts include high levels of heavy metals such as lead (mainly in CRT monitor glass), mercury, phosphorus, and beryllium.

What can be recycled?

You'll need to check with your local computer recycling service, but below is a list of equipment that most will accept and dispose of appropriately.

  • Personal computers, laptops, tablets and smartphones
  • Computer monitors - CRT, LCD, and plasma
  • Software, CDs, DVDs, and floppy disks
  • Power cords, monitor cords etc
  • Routers, switches
  • Printers
  • Hardware - video cards, ram etc
  • Peripherals - keyboard, mouse, speakers etc.
  • Hard drive recycling

Tips for Computer Recycling

The easiest way to go is to keep your ears open for local computer disposal events where you can bring your e-waste to a certain location and a recycling service will take it off your hands.

If you're concerned about just how eco friendly or trustworthy the recycler is, do a little due dilligence:

  • Are they supported or commended by the local council or a reputable authority?
  • Do they have appropriate accreditation?
  • Do they explain how they dispose of computers and what recycling processes they undertake? Many will outline exactly what they do and where the parts go on their website.
  • Do they explain how they wipe any information (for hard-drives etc)? This may be important if you have confidential information on your computer.

First published May 23, 2012
Last updated February 4, 2021

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One comment on “How Computer Recycling Works”

  1. Got some old electronic equipment I'd like to get rid of including a computer, monitor, printer, cell phones, radios, TV, scanner, etc.

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