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How to Recycle Your Old Computer

Updated on July 13, 2011

Find Out Where and How to Recycle, Donate, or Reuse Your Computer

When it comes to computers, there's a certain gray area that exists. Can you recycle your computer, and how do you do it? E-waste is one of the most hazardous forms of all waste. There have been chemicals found in computers like bromines, lead, and PVC, so it is imperative these materials are treated seriously and not just thrown into a landfill. Read on to find out how to recycle your old computer and prevent it from being thrown into landfill conditions for all eternity.

Wipe Your Hard Drive Clean

Before you recycle your old computer, you should seriously think about wiping the hard drive clean, or even destroying it. The hard drive is where all of your sensitive information is stored. If it is left intact on the computer, it could be potentially get into the wrong hands. In the age of identity theft, phishing, and online security breaches, you can never be too careful. Read this article from PC World to completely erase your hard drive.

Evaluate the Worth of Your Computer

How old is your computer, and what working condition is it in? Computers typically don't last longer than five years, sometimes more, sometimes less (and this doesn't seem to be changing anytime soon). Hundreds of millions of computers are purchased and disposed of annually, so the e-waste is really building up.

First, you should evaluate the worth of your computer. If it still works and isn't considered stone age technology, consider selling it or donating it. Local schools, shelters, and non profits could certainly use them. If the condition of your computer is poor, won't start, the operating system doesn't work, or the technology is simply too old to be of any use, it's time to recycle it.

Find a Place to Recycle Your Computer

There are no nationwide government programs that are dedicated to recycling computers and e-waste (though it would make sense if a program existed). If you'd like to recycle your computer, you'll have to rely on local programs and big manufacturers to recycle it. Here are some of those programs.

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Where Have You Recycled Your Computers?

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    • BkCreative profile image

      BkCreative 7 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      Thanks for all the tips - this was an unbelievable hassle some years ago because I knew I couldn't just throw it out - and I had to wipe it clean. I wholeheartedly agree - recycling should be easy. But it's not.

      There are lots of recycling places here in NYC - unbelievably they are so far out of the way and you can only do it at certain times. So it seems like everyone I know - still has their old computers.

      When we buy these things they should come with specific recycling information. You've mentioned more computer companies participating - and that should be a given.

      Thanks for this always timely information.