Whether you're tossing out an old Gateway or Dell from the early days of home computers or replacing a new system after physical damage, there's a few restrictions when it comes to electronics disposal and a few benefits you could be losing. It's against the law in most areas to simply throw a computer away in the general trash, but if you can't drive directly to a recycling center, here are a few things to consider for safe and legal recycling.
Understanding Recyclable Materials Inside Computers
Before getting deep into what you can recover from computers, get one hopeful material out of your head: gold. Gold is available in trace amounts as small flakes on cards or as pins on the processor (central processing unit or CPU), but unless you're already making a pile of gold shavings for recover, don't expect multiple dollars of gold to come from computer recovery.
Aluminum is the first material you'll likely encounter, although modern computers cover the aluminum case with plastic for design appeal. The case can be broken down into a series of panels, struts, and beams that create a framework for holding all other computer components.
Much of the case can be dismantled with a basic screwdriver set, but some parts of the frame may be held together with rivets or metal tabs depending on the manufacturer. Be careful if you need to bend and/or tear aluminum for dismantling, as the thin design can become jagged and may cut quickly.
Aluminum is also available in the form of heat sinks. These components are responsible for pulling heat away from high temperature components such as the processor and are usually solid blocks with machine-cut, sharp fins. Copper is used instead of aluminum for high-performance computers such as gaming or graphic design computers, although more modern computers are using copper or aluminum-copper interlocked heat sinks.
Separation And Pickup For Recyclable Materials
When everything is dismantled as well as you can manage, you may want to try trading in the materials for their individual value. Recycling rates change every day, and it's hard to tell if you'll get more for individual components/materials or whole computer units. Separating as many materials as you can will keep you prepared for either option.
A curbside recycling service can provide multiple bins if you're recycling multiple computers or electronic devices to make the division easier. Instead of spreading everything out in your own boxes, on the floor, or on the ground, these bins can act as both separating and curbside pickup. It's illegal to throw computers into the standard garbage, but these recycling bins are exactly what you need to get your electronic waste into the right, legal containers for disposal.
From there, a recycling service can perform pickup and/or delivery, and can provide a quote if you're trying to make a bit of money back. If you just want to recycle to help the environment, the money can either be used to offset recycling services costs or donated to charity if you'd prefer. Contact a recycling service professional, such as Industrial Services Inc, to discuss containers, recycling centers, and recycling rates.