How to Recycle a Computer

With technology changing as quickly as it does today, many computers from just a year or two ago are regarded as commercially "obsolete". When you finally decide it's time to ditch that old desktop and CRT monitor for a sleek new laptop (or even just a newer, nicer desktop), you're faced with the task of discarding your old computer. While the easiest thing to do might be to put your old computer out on the curb for the garbage man, that's not environmentally friendly and most garbage services won't take computers anymore for just that reason.

When it comes to recycling your computer you have a few different options. As long as you're not in the mood to take it out into a field a field and smash it to bits, a la Office Space, you should be able to recycle your computer without a problem.


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    Send your computer back to a manufacturer. If you have recently purchased a new computer, you may be able to send your old computer back to a manufacturer. Many computer manufacturers, including Apple, HP and Dell, offer programs that allow you to mail your old computer to them for free, which they will then recycle, if you have recently purchased one of their products.
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    Even if you have not recently purchased a computer, you may still be able to send your old computer back to a manufacturer. However, it could cost you some money. For example, Dell offers a program that allows you to send them your computer after selecting a $10 or $20 computer recycling kit. HP requests that you provide them with information about your computer, your location, etc. and will then send you a quote. Some manufacturers may require you to pay for shipping and handling, but the fees are typically reasonable.
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    Take your computer to a nearby recycling center. Chances are that there is a computer recycling center or program in your area. Visit the Consumer Education Initiative to find computer recycling centers near you. These recycling centers will typically take more than just computers too, so if you have any other electronics that you'd like to get rid of, check to see if you can recycle them at your computer recycling center as well.
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    Donate your computer to a charity. The ultimate way to recycle your computer, if it's still working, is to donate it to a local charity or school. Then you know that someone will be re-using your computer, instead of just its parts and/or materials. Donating your working computer can make a big difference in someone's life.
    • The National Cristina Foundation,[1] for example, maintains a list of non-profit groups, schools and public agencies throughout the US that are in need of used computer equipment. NCF donates the used computers it receives to "organizations [that] train people with disabilities, students at risk and economically disadvantaged persons to lead more independent and productive lives."
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    In the UK the charity Computer Aid International wipes the hard drives of all donated computers, free of charge, to US military standards. Please visit for more information.


  • Don't forget to destroy the data

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Categories: Computers and Electronics | Reduce Recycle and Reuse