How to Recycle Computers
When it comes to recycling laptops, even one makes a big difference — recycling one laptop saves enough energy to power 3,500 U.S. homes for an entire year, according to the EPA. Plus, the inside of your computer contains valuable metals like gold, silver and platinum that can be recovered and reused.
The easiest way to make sure your computer is properly recycled is to take it to a local retailer with a computer recycling program. To find one near you, check out our Recycling Locator at the bottom of this page.
Before recycling your computer, here are a few preparation steps:
- Remove all data from your computer to prevent identity theft. You may want to back up important files on an external hard drive.
- Unplug the computer peripherals (keyboard, speakers, etc.) from your desktop or laptop. You can likely recycle these parts as well using the same company where you take the machine, but consider reusing them or donating them since they won’t need a software upgrade to work on a new computer.
For a laptop, flip it over and see if you can remove the battery. Many laptops use lithium-ion batteries, which require special transportation for recycling, so this is especially important if using a manufacturer mail-back program.
Frequent Computer Recycling Questions
BAN has been certifying recyclers since 2006 to ensure that no electronics are exported overseas. R2 (originally R2 Solutions) has been around since 2008, and focuses more on certifying the recycling process and data destruction.
There are hundreds of computer recyclers that aren’t e-Stewards or R2 certified, but if you’re wanting to recycle with one of these certified companies, you can find a directory of them here and here.
- How to Recycle Your Old Computer: A step-by-step guide to recycling your computers, from thinking before you by all the way through taking action
- Make a Difference: Donate Your Computer: Find out how donating your computer can help those who need it
- How to Remove Data from Electronics Before Recycling: If you’re worried about the safety of your data, follow these steps and feel secure when donating.