How to Recycle Computers

When it comes to recycling laptops, even one makes a big difference — recycling one million laptops 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:

  1. Remove all data from your computer to prevent identity theft. You may want to back up important files on an external hard drive.
  2. 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

Additional Reading