How to Properly Dispose of Computer Equipment

by Contributor

As computer equipment becomes older it gets harder to sell or get rid of. There comes a time when it becomes junk or useless to you. But before you put that piece of equipment in the trash you may want to think twice. That equipment may contain toxic material that is harmful to you and the environment. Circuit boards contain heavy metals such as lead, and old CRT (glass tube) monitors contain gases that need to be recaptured and mercury, which is poisonous. Thrown in a landfill these toxins will eventually find their way into the water supply. So it's a good idea to dispose of your computer equipment properly.

***Important*** Make sure you securely erase your hard disks before you hand them off to someone else.

There is a local recycler in my area that will take old equipment and test it. The stuff that doesn't work or that is too old they send to scrap, the stuff that is still good they refurbish and either donate or sell in their thrift store. The Portland Oregon area has a great non-profit called Free Geek that takes computer equipment. Check them out at, maybe your community has something similar.

Check the manufacturer website of the equipment and see if they offer a recycling program. Manufacturers such as Dell offer a great programs for recycling their equipment. They are usually low cost or no cost.

I have found that some Goodwill locations are even taking old computer equipment working or not. But call ahead before you take it to the drop off location, just to make sure they take it.

Use your local Yellow Pages or a search engine like Google to find recyclers in your area that will take your computer equipment. ***Warning*** Make sure that the recycler is truly recycling the equipment and not throwing it in a landfill. There have been recyclers that will take your equipment for a fee and turn around and deliver it to a landfill rather than properly disposing of the equipment.

If your computer equipment is still working and isn't too old you could donate it to a local charity, non-profit, or even a school, who will refurbish it and use it.

Give your working equipment to someone you know who needs our could use it.


  • check Recycling your computer equipment keeps toxic chemicals out of your water.
  • check There are charities that will take your equipment and reuse it if they are able.
  • check Find a friend, local geek, or someone in need, that will take and use the equipment.


  • close Securely erase all hard disks you will be donating or recycling.
  • close Computer equipment can contain toxic chemicals that need to be disposed of properly.
  • close Not all recyclers are created equal, make sure they are legit, and that they dispose of the equipment properly.

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