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How to Recycle Your Computer

Updated on March 13, 2008

Did you know a computer monitor can have four to eight pounds of lead in it?

Your computer can contain hazardous materials, so it is important to safely recycle it. Seventy percent of heavy metals found in U.S. landfills are from electronics. These heavy metals include:

Cadmium - A very toxic metal used in industrial workplaces that is hazardous to people’s health and damages the environment.

Mercury – A metal poison and toxic pollutant that has been banned in many countries.

Lead – A heavy metal that can cause irreversible health problems, as well as reproductive toxicity.

Even with this information available, fewer than 15% of computers are currently being recycled. I promote donating used computers, but if this isn’t an option for you, properly recycling your computers is the best thing you can do. Many computer manufacturers make it easy to safely dispose of computer equipment that is outdated or no longer usable. If you know of a company not listed here, please leave a comment in the box at the bottom of the page, and I will update the list.

Take-Back Programs

Apple: This company will provide a prepaid shipping label for its recycling program, but it will cost you about $30. They will also send you the packing materials for a small fee. Check out apple.com for more information.

Dell: They will pick up your computer, regardless of its manufacturer, and take it to Dell’s recycling department for about $15. You can recycle your old computer for free when you purchase a new Dell computer. Visit dell.com for more information.

Gateway: This company doesn’t actually offer a recycling program, but offers a list of independent recycling organizations on its website. Gateway may trade or purchase old equipment from customers who provide proof of purchase. Learn more at gateway.com.

HP: From $13 to $35 an item, HP will take both your computer (from any manufacturer) and laser-printer and ink-jet supplies (from HP only). Find out more at hp.com.

IBM: This company will provide a prepaid shipping label to sent your computer, from any manufacturer, to Envirocycle—a large electronics recycling center. The label will cost about $30. Learn more at ibm.com or environinc.com.

How you choose to recycle your computer is up to you. You simply need to find the option that works best for you. As well, remember that you can recycle a lot of your electronic products. If you are unsure of how to recycle anything, from batteries to old toner, contact the company and ask. Many companies will provide you with a shipping label so you can send the old products to their recycling centers.

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    • JRATL profile image

      JRATL 8 years ago from Atlanta a suburb of Buckhead

      Good Article

      Thank you

    • Eileen Hughes profile image

      Eileen Hughes 9 years ago from Northam Western Australia

      Same here usually pass mine one but great idea for those that havent got someone to download to. Good hub Thanks Stacey

    • cgull8m profile image

      cgull8m 9 years ago from North Carolina

      Great Hub Stacie, I usually give my old computers to my family or friends, but I will keep this article in case have to send old computers back. IBM seems to be a great option. Thanks.