How to Recycle Old Electronics: Top Tips for Computer Recycling

Apr 14, 2020 | E-Cycling

You’re at a standstill as to what you’ll do with those stacks of boxes in your garage or home office, stuffed to the gills with electronic parts, old computers, and obsolete technology. How do you recycle this mishmash of parts? Where do you take it all? Never fear, there are sources for your current electronic castoffs, and here are some top tips for computer recycling that just may relieve you of your recycling woes.  

Is It Worth Recycling?

You may think those bulky old desktop computers and first and second-generation laptops are unusable, but that isn’t the case. Any older desktops, laptops or their internal or external parts can be worthy of computer recycling or salvaging.

Electronic recycling or repurposing of smaller computer parts and electronics is just as important as recycling larger components. Salvaging, reusing, or reconditioning computer parts in some capacity is always possible.

So, if you want to dispose of your electronic components, you don’t have to find some far distant place to take them. It’s the consensus of technological waste industries that your old computers and electronics will find their way into good hands somewhere. There are city services, recycling centers and charitable organizations out there, from small to large, that know how to handle your computer and electronic waste.

Where to Start

Once you decide to go the disposal route with any of your computer recycling, you’ll want to delete any personal information or other important data from the devices you plan on salvaging, recycling, donating, or selling. Simply follow the steps necessary to remove that kind of information from your computer’s hard drive. Follow similar instructions to wipe any personal data from tablets, cellphones, or any other devices where personal information or critical data has been inputted.

Also, if any of your devices include batteries that are rechargeable, you’ll want to remove them for separate disposal. Rechargeable batteries contain harmful elements, so you’ll want to discard them somewhere other than a garbage dump or landfill.

Creative Uses

Before you definitely go the computer recycling or dumping route and cut the ties with your old technology, think about how you could reuse parts you retrieve from your older computers and electronics. You may find other ways to use them rather than getting rid of them altogether. You could look at what you consider junk in a creative sense. Making artistic pieces or display items is fun, plus you’re preserving a visual history of older computer technology. 

Recycling Options

You have any number of options when it comes to electronic recycling. There are state, local, and nonprofit organizations that solicit and acquire used computers and electronics. There are also local recycling centers that specialize in electronic waste disposal along with other groups like and Earth911 that offer information on recycling solutions throughout the United States. With the many options available, you should be able to find the right one that fits your recycling needs.

City Recycling Services

Often your local city has a recyclables collection service for recyclable items that go along with your refuse collection service. You may have permission to recycle outdated electronics in a specified container for pickup. Always check with your city government sanitation/garbage collection services about curbside pickups for electronic recycling before you discard them. In some cities, you cannot dispose of electronics in this way, because of the dangers of hazardous materials to city dump sites.

Local Hazardous Waste Facilities

When curbside pickup is not available for electronic recycling, you may want to contact your local or county hazardous waste facility that will accept old computers, parts, and related electronics that may contain dangerous materials. A waste facility will usually take apart any component that requires disposal in a safe manner. Go through your city or county’s public works department to find a facility near you or check online for a waste facility in your area.

Electronic Recycling Centers

Besides city and county recycling services, family owned and operated electronic recycling centers are of great benefit and value to those wanting to donate obsolete and newer computers, hardware, and related electronics. Local recycling centers often compensate clients for what they donate. 

Recycling centers are a boon to a community as they offer a myriad of services that you won’t find with other recycling establishments, and they operate under strict guidelines that protect the environment. Many recycling centers have sprung up across the country and offer both electronics and computer recycling that includes recycling of both outdated electronics and newer components. They often recycle almost every computer component and part in existence that includes servers, towers, CPU’s and computer scrap. Many centers such as CJD E-Cycling offer extended services that include

  • Purchase options on E-Scrap
  • Tracking of recycled materials
  • Tailored pickups for customers
  • Drive-thru drop offs
  • Accommodate unique client needs
  • Data destruction
  • In-house processing
  • Exchange of metal for cash
  • E-Waste drive events
  • Collection Center locations for drop-offs
  • Listings of non accepted items for client use
  • Social media access

Community Computer Recycling

When you have many computers and electronic items to dispose of that are still in good shape and working order but you would rather donate them, there are many local education and other facilities that will accept computers and other outdated electronic components, such as

  • Public Schools
  • Private schools
  • Adult education programs
  • Libraries
  • Churches
  • Senior centers
  • Recreation centers
  • Women’s shelters
  • Assisted living facilities
  • Homeless shelters
  • Other education related services

Donation Stipulations

There are several things you’ll want to take into consideration when it comes to donating outdated electronics. You’ll want the devices to be no older than five years and you’ll want them to function properly. You’ll also want them to not require repairs or replacement of parts. It’s only common courtesy to donate items in working order. Always find out ahead of time if the organization your donating to has stipulations on the condition of the electronics you’re giving them.  You don’t want to drop off an older computer only to be told the organization can’t use it.  

Charitable Donations

You may think your computer and electronic parts are unusable, but there are charitable and non-profit organizations that will be happy to take them off your hands. Locate those organizations online that accept computer parts and electronics, or through phone listings. Goodwill is one example. They take donations at their drop-off and drive-up locations and partner with Dell Reconnect to take almost any brand of computer and computer parts. Other organizations in affiliation with charitable donations include:

The World Computer Exchange organization takes part in computer recycling and computer reuse across the world, and they provide used computers and related electronics to developing countries in need. The Exchange has local chapters and a main website in the United States. They accept computer donations and they repair and recycle outdated equipment.   

Salvation Army – Contact your local Salvation Army and ask them whether they are accepting donation for computers, electronics and any related computer hardware. If they are arrange for free-e waste pickup or drop off at your local Salvation Army.

Vietnam Veterans of America – Contact your local facility Contact Vietnam Veterans of America to donate your old computers and electronics. They provide free e-waste pickup for any electronics related items. Always remember to ask about any restrictions on conditions of items to be donated.

Computers with Causes – This organization has a website for computer recycling. You complete their online form that gives instructions how to submit any computers, tablets and related electronics that you’re trying to discard. Any devices for consideration must be no older than three years. They request that all personal information be deleted.

Online Sites and Trade Circulars

Another way to sell your obsolete yet still valuable electronics is through sites like Facebook Marketplace eBay, Craigslist, or through local newspaper ads and buy and trade circulars. You can usually find these publications placed next to newspaper and magazine stands in mini malls and grocery store complexes.

Trade-in/Take-Back Programs

Another way to recycle older computers and parts is through trade-in or take-back programs. Say you have an older model computer that you want to trade in for an upgrade. Contact the manufacturer of your computer or the retailer where you bought your computer and ask either about discounts or trade-in options for a return on an older model. Other companies may offer different choices such as mail-in or take back options in return for gift certificates for tablets and other electronic devices.  

Retail Electronic Recycling Programs

Electronic retailers will often sponsor recycling events at different times of the year. Be sure and contact any electronic retailers ahead of time to assure that your retail location is accepting what you want to drop off for recycling. Often recycle programs will place recycle boxes for drop off at retail locations. Ask your local retailer for drop box times and locations.

Tech Firm Electronic Recycling

Besides recycling programs at the retail level, there are specific manufacturers of electronics, such as HP, that offer computer recycling on different computers and computer hardware. Check with your personal computer brand provider to determine whether they offer a recycling program for disposal of your particular electronics.Your text to link… Those companies that currently offer electronic recycling of old electronics include:  

  • Apple – has a GiveBack program, gift cards, and store credits for specific products. They also accept products for recycling.
  • Best Buy – has electronic recycling options for numerous electronics matter where you bought them.
  • Sprint – also has a Buyback program with account credits
  • Amazon – offers substantial gift cards for almost any electronic device for numerous electronic devices
  • Office supply companies like Office Depot and Staples offer company programs for printer cartridge recycling and other sales and rebate offers.

Public E-Waste Computer Recycling

Cities and towns will often sponsor free e-waste pickup events where citizens can either ask for pickup or attend the event to drop off old computers and electronics. Always check with your public works department of your city or county to confirm whether there is an event near your area. Also, ask what items will be allowed for pick up and drop off for electronic recycling.

Local E-Waste Computer Recycling

There are private e-waste recycling companies that have the necessary facilities to help you recycle your used or obsolete computer parts. They often offer free e-waste pickup and dispose of your used computer parts in an eco-friendly and responsible manner. Many e-waste companies will offer other services that include disposing of large surpluses of IT holdings and added electronic wastes.

Other E-Waste Providers

There are many green waste disposal companies throughout America that offer free e-waste pickup. Many of these businesses will send out trucks to your location for pickup. You simply call an e-waste provider in your local area and a pickup will be arranged. Other organizations that specialize in recycling electronic items will specify exactly what they will accept for e-recycling and will provide a listing of those items. One such e-waste recycling program, eWast4good,Your text to link… works in hand with other organizations in the Central Valley and Bay area of California to help people in those areas recycle most any old electronic components, and they do it all through direct free e-waste pickup at homes and businesses.

Whether you repurpose, donate, recycle, sell, trade or discard your old and obsolete computers and electronics, there are numerous providers that allow you to do just that in an environmentally friendly, productive and lucrative way. With the minute-by-minute advances being made in electronics and computerized devices, there will be an ever increasing accumulation of outmoded components across the globe. You want to be a step ahead in the recycling game and seek the best and most eco-friendly way to dispose of your electronic waste. Most of the top tips for computer recycling given here should be helpful in finding what best fits your recycling needs.


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