Tips and Tricks for Recycling Old Computers


Publishing date: Aug 21, 2006 04:22

Old PCs can't just be left at the curb with the rubbish. It is businesses' legal and environmental responsibility to dispose of old electronics properly. Luckily, there are a number of good options.

Tips and Tricks for Recycling Old Computers

You donít have to be a techie to know that computers have become as fundamental to your business as a telephone. And if you think back a few years, Iíll bet you canít imagine using that old computer equipment to do the work that you are doing today. My guess is that if you are like most of us, when youíve upgraded your equipment youíve found a place to store the old stuff, because you know that just putting it in the trash isnít a good or very responsible idea. So Iím guessing that a storage closet, a basement or store room is where I could find one or more hardware devices that you no longer use (and never will again) just gathering dust.

How do I know you wonít ever use them? Because technology has advanced at a rate that you wouldnít even consider the time and trouble it would take to operate that old equipment. And the stuff that youíve been storing isnít just worthless to you, but to almost every other business out there. In fact, itís estimated that stored IT equipment loses six to 10 percent of its value each month.

So what should you do with those old PCís and laptops?

Donate: One option is to donate them to an organization that refurbishes computers and sends them to local schools and nonprofits in need. Make sure the organization that you donate to protects the privacy of your information by wiping your hard drive clean. These organizations will wipe the hard drive clean and make sure the computer functions properly before sending it off for charitable use. If the computer is too out-of-date for refurbishing, the hard drive will be wiped clean and destroyed, and the remaining portions of the computer will then be taken apart so the numerous valuable and recyclable components can be reused. There are a number of different programs nationwide that provide this service. Your local solution provider and online Web sites such as can help you find a facility in your area. Donít forget to write off your donation when tax time rolls around.

Recycle with an independent company: The three major parts of a personal computer Ė monitor, computer and keyboard Ė can all be recycled. From the glass in the monitor to the metals used in the circuits, much of a computerís components can find new life in other applications. The Environmental Protection Agencyís term for obsolete computers is ďhazardous household waste.Ē This hazardous label is due in part to the lead, mercury and other toxic materials contained in all computers. Disposing of hazardous waste, such as the 1.5 pounds of lead inside an average 15-inch computer monitor, in a landfill that is not permitted for such wastes poses a threat to drinking water and can result in other environmental hazards in the future. See the Web site above for a local computer recycler, or talk to your solution provider - they are usually familiar with independent recyclers in your area.

Recycle with a manufacturer: Most computer manufacturers recognize that disposal of old equipment is a problem for both their customers and the environment, and many have implemented computer recycling programs to help consumers and business people safely dispose of unwanted PCs. HP has a good program in place, and others may have something similar. In HPís case, theyíve recycled more than 750 million pounds of hardware and print cartridges globally. And thatís not just their own equipment. Theyíll take anyoneís equipment in trade for new HP gear; itís a credit against the purchase price based on what you are trading in. You can find out more about HPís program at Check with a local solution provider for the features you should get on your replacement equipment.

A growing trend

Environmentally friendly and sustainable initiatives are becoming more prevalent in the technology space, just as they are in other aspects of business and private life. People are growing familiar with the energy efficient Energy Star seal of approval on many computers, appliances and even homes, and green building is increasingly popular. Similar to the Leadership in Engineering and Environmental Design (LEED) certification program for green buildings, a new system has been developed to evaluate, certify and register green desktop computers, notebooks and monitors. The program initiated by Green Electronics Council is called Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool (EPEAT) and rates products according to three tiers of environmental performance: gold, silver or bronze.

EPEAT helps electronics purchasers evaluate products by providing a clear and consistent set of performance criteria as relates to environmentally friendly features. This program also provides manufacturers increased opportunities for recognition of efforts to reduce the environmental impact of their products. EPEATís Web site will soon have a searchable registry of EPEAT certified products enabling small business owners and consumers alike to make informed decisions about electronics purchases. You can learn more at EPEAT.

As always, your solution provider partner has probably already helped other customers in your area dispose of older equipment, and they are a good source of information about local resources and the manufacturer programs that they support.

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