Proper computer disposal is something that all of us will need to worry about at least once or twice in the coming years. You may already have two or three sitting around that you’ve got no idea what to do with. You can clear some space in your home by getting rid of them. However, in many municipalities, just throwing them in the trash — especially the monitors — is illegal because of the toxic chemicals used when they were manufactured.
5 Safe Computer Disposal Solutions
So what do you do with your old computers? Can computer disposal be done safely?
1. Donate Them to Salvation Army or Goodwill
Just because those old computers you’ve got lying around aren’t the newest, latest, and greatest doesn’t mean that nobody will be able to make use of them. Many people, especially in these trying economic times, aren’t able to afford a new computer, but their 5-year-old Pentium machines are just too excruciatingly slow to be of any use to them.
Box your old ones up and take them to the nearest Salvation Army, Goodwill, Amvets, or American Legion Post. All of these organizations will be more than willing to take them and either give them away to someone who needs them. Or in the case of Salvation Army and Goodwill, sell them at a price that someone less fortunate and in need of a computer can afford. They will also give you a tax deductible receipt, so you can save some money on your taxes.
2. Schools Will Also Take Old Computers
Computers are becoming more and more an everyday part of the curriculum at our schools, both public and private. Older ones are a great way for kids to develop technical skills working on them, getting them running the best possible. Since they have no appreciable investment in them, the schools can allow this without worrying about losing money when a student does something that kills the computer or parts of it. Again, you can also write these donated computers off your taxes when you donate them to a school.
3. Make Some Money Back by Selling Them to a Scrap Recycler
Break out the Yellow Pages or Google — it’s time to let your fingers do some walking. Look for recyclers that specialize in computer components. Most of these recycling operations will readily buy used computer components since many of the parts inside the computer can be reused as long as they function properly. You probably won’t be paid as much as you can get as a tax write off by donating, but you’ll have money in your pocket today, instead of when you get your refund.
4. Check the Wanted Sections of Newspapers
There are quite a few individuals and organizations that advertise in the Wanted sections of newspapers looking to buy used computers and components. Read through the whole classifieds section, as some people that advertise don’t do so in the sections you’d expect to see their ads. Again, you probably won’t get as much as you could as a write off, but, you will still have money in your pocket right away, instead of some months down the road.
5. Find an Acceptable Dumping Location as a Last Resort
What happens when you can’t find anyone in your area to take your old computers off your hands? You still have to get rid of them, right? You can call either City Hall or the local garbage collection company to find out the locations that have been set aside for accepting used electrical components.
Like I said, in most places you can’t just toss them on the street for pickup or take them to the dump because of some of the toxic chemicals that were used when they were manufactured, such as PCBs used during the manufacturing process of the circuit boards. The lead in the solder used to secure components to those circuit boards is also dangerous.
Even the smallest towns have designated collection locations set side solely for collecting used electronic devices. At these locations they collect the scrap until they have a truckload or a container full, and then the scrap is trucked to an electronics recycler and anything useful is recovered. The rest is disposed of safely.
BONUS OPTION: Don’t Get Rid of It – Use as a Family Server
I have two computers. The one I do all my work and play on and a second one that I’ve set up as a storage receptacle for movies, music, and pictures that I want to share with people. I’ve set it up as a mini server dedicated for this use and nothing else. Since it only has to run an FTP server software, it doesn’t have to be top of the line.
Hopefully, I’ve given you some ideas to think about when you start looking into computer disposal options.