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How To Recycle A Computer

As you all know, my beloved but old computer went kaput a few days ago.  When I took it into the shop… gasp… they called it vintage!  It was at the top of the line just 6 years ago!

The reality of our computer age is that technology is only built to last a couple years.  Televisions, mobile phones, mp3 players, refrigerators… they are all stuff that is improved upon quickly: faster, more energy efficient, prettier, better.

But have you ever seen a landfill?  It’s grotesque.  Filled with stuff we throw away.  Stuff full of metals and plastics.

I couldn’t do it.  I couldn’t throw it out.  My computer was dead, but it was big and didn’t belong in the dump.  Also, it was still pretty.  I am a Mac person, and the bulk of the computer is made of brushed aluminum.  How many aluminum cans would have made up the aluminum in that computer?  A lot.

But I didn’t have to look far.  It turns out Apple has a recycling program, where they recycle phones, iPods, monitors, laptops, and hard drives. That was easy!  I just brought it into the store and them to recycle it.  That’s it!

But it got me wondering what all you PC owners out there can do.  Here’s what I found:

Where To Recycle A Computer

  1. Tech Soup.  A large listing of non-profits and schools who accept donated computers in the US and Canada.  The services they list “can make sure your equipment gets to schools and charities in good working order, and can install legal software, wipe hard drives, and dispose of expensive e-waste.” They also have a great list of ways to extend the life of your computer.
  2. National Christina Foundation.  This is a non-profit that matches technology donations to charities that need them.  They accept desktops, laptops, printers, monitors, keyboards, software, and more.
  3. e-Stewards.  All US computer recycling companies listed have signed the “e-Stewards Pledge Program,” which in essence means that they have ethical and environmentally sound recycling programs.
  4. E-cycling Central. A national service, they list 52 recycling programs in my state via their easy search function.  They even have a separate website just for Washington that includes locations (some are even pick-up services) and collection data (14 million pounds of recycled electronics were recycled last year in my county alone!!).  You can recycle tvs, desktops, laptops, and monitors.
  5. Reconnect. A joint program created by Dell and Goodwill, reconnect has dropoff points at most Goodwill locations.  They accept monitors, desktops, laptops, printers, scanners, hard drives, keyboards, mice, speakers, cords/cables, ink cartridges, and software.  Wow!  Many locations also recycle tvs, phones, and appliances.  They’re still expanding the program, so most locations are in the southwest, midwest, east, and northeast US, plus Eastern Canada.
  6. Apple.  Apple recycles desktops, laptops, monitors, iPhones, iPods, and Mac batteries.  If you bring in your old iPod, you’ll get a 10% discount on a new one.  If you buy a new computer, recycling the old one is free.  Recycling programs are available in the US, Australia, Asia, and Europe.
  7. Dell. Dell will recycle any Dell product for free (online or in store).  If you buy one of their computers, they will recycle your old computer and monitor (of any brand) for free.  They don’t just recycle the computers, though:  they refurbish and donate ones that can still be used!
  8. HP.  A global recycling program that accepts old computers, batteries, monitors, printers, and more for recycling, trade-in, and re-sell.
  9. Ebay.  You can sell, donate, or recycle your computer via Ebay.  They even have instructions for how to erase your data before sending it off.
  10. Freecycle.  Chances are, someone somewhere would love your old computer because they want to save money and/or resources.  Maybe they only need a word processor.  It’s easy to list, it’s nice to feel a part of your community via Freecycle.

If you have exhausted this list and still haven’t found anything in your area, check your local dump or landfill and find out if they recycle computers or know where you can do so.  You can also try Earth911, a comprehensive listing of all types of recycling programs in the US.

Other Resources?

Please add them in the comments, everyone!  We all thank you!

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3 comments to How To Recycle A Computer

  • arekksu

    It’s become illegal in most places to ‘dump’ your electronic waste in the trash. Earth 911 should get anyone in the US started if you don’t know about your local or state recycling program (or Solid Waste program). Washington’s ECycleWashington.org program began last year. King County DNRP Solid Waste Division has comprehensive recycling info on their handy “What do I do with…?” page; several Seattle area groups do attempt to repair, re-sell / reuse computer equipment.

    BAN and SVTC made a lovely documentary on the consequences of our mountains of e-waste years ago called “Exporting Harm”. And that was before everyone had iPods/Phones/Pads.

  • [...] Green Generation has a full list of how and where you can recycle your old computers the environmentally safe [...]

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