Recycling Computers (PC's) and Other Electronic Equipment

Recycling Computers (PC's) and Other Electronic Equipment

What should I Know about Recycling Computers and other Electronics?

From the growing popularity and necessity of computers and rapidly changing computer technologies, comes the growing problem of computer and electronics waste. As more new and improved computers are designed and built, more older obsolete computers are becoming part of the waste stream. The good news about computer waste is that there need not be any. This list document will explain how to handle recycling with different parts of the computer as a List of Computer Recycling Vendors who rebuild computers for schools and other uses or will accept computer parts for recycling (see list below).

There are three primary parts that make up a personal computer. The computer is the large box which contains the disk drive, power supply, and the processor. The computer may also contain other components such as the sound and video cards, and internal modems. The monitor is the screen, or the part of the computer that looks like a television (also referred to as a cathode ray tube or CRT ). The keyboard is the part which, not surprisingly, looks like a typewriter keyboard. In some older models, the computer may be housed in the same case as the monitor or the keyboard. For the purposes of this fact sheet the keyboard is considered to be part of the computer.

Virtually an entire computer can be recycled. From the glass in the monitor, to the plastic in the case, to the copper in the power supply, to the precious metals used in the circuitry. Companies are making new innovative products out of old computers. Many computers can be revitalized and sold to schools in economically challenged urban and rural areas. Some vocational schools use old computers to teach electronic repair and analysis techniques. Non-functioning computers may also have salvageable components such as modems or power supplies that could be used to refurbish other computers. One company is even turning old circuit boards from computers into novel products like clip-boards and notebooks.

Not all companies are equally equipped to recycle all parts of a computer. Some companies, for example, may charge a handling fee for recycling monitors, since they contain significant quantities of lead and some quantities of other hazardous materials such as barium. Other companies, however, specialize in monitor recycling and do not charge a fee. So depending on your waste situation you may want to choose more than one company to recycle your computer waste.

Regulatory Considerations for Disposing of Computers and Monitors

It is important to note that if you should decide to dispose of computers and monitors, you could be considered a generator of hazardous waste under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). RCRA requires generators of solid wastes containing toxic constituents (such as lead and barium) to determine whether or not the waste is hazardous by using generator knowledge or by testing representative samples of that waste. If you do not test used computers and monitors and prove them non-hazardous, you must assume they are hazardous waste and dispose of them at a permitted hazardous waste facility or recycle them.

Under some state's provisions (like Ohio), computer CRTs are not regulated as hazardous wastes if the generator has them recycled. Some states consider discarded integrated circuits from computer systems to be scrap metal. Scrap metal is not regulated as hazardous waste if it is reclaimed or recycled.

I'm Just a Homeowner, What Should I Do?

Homeowners are not considered hazardous waste generators under RCRA. However, your local solid waste district may have laws or restrictions against disposing of computers or CRTs (monitors, televisions, etc.) in the municipal solid waste stream. This may be because their landfill is not permitted to accept these types of hazardous waste. The average 15-inch computer monitor contains over 1.5 lbs. of lead. Disposing of a hazardous waste in landfill that is not permitted for such wastes could pose a threat to drinking water and result in other environmental hazards in the future. If you have any questions about your local solid waste regulations, please contact your state EPA.

If it is not practical for you to find a certified recycler for your old computer or computer monitor, you can contact the local Goodwill, Salvation Army, AmVets, or other organization where you can donate the computer for resale or refurbishing. You might also contact school districts near you to see if they can use your computer.

Top Tips for Donating Your Computer

  1. Can someone else refurbish and re-use your computer?

    If it is less than 5 years old, it can probably be refurbished! TechSoup has compiled a comprehensive body of information to promote computer recycling and reuse. This site provides resources for those who would like to donate hardware, those who would like to acquire recycled hardware, and refurbishers.

  2. If it is more than 5 years old or broken, recycle it!

  3. Contact the refurbishing company or organizations before donating.

    Make sure they accept the type/brand/model of computer you plan to give away. Some organizations will refuse older models.

  4. Include the accessories.

    Include the keyboard, mouse, printer, modem, any packaged software, or any other accessories you use with the computer. Schools and nonprofits can almost always put them to good use, and most organizations only accept complete systems.

  5. Wipe your personal information off the computer!

    To avoid identity theft, wipe out:

    • your Internet browser's
    • cache,
    • cookies,
    • history;
    • your email contacts and
    • email messages;
    • your documents (Word, Excel, Access, PowerPoint, text files, etc.);
    • your recycle folder; and
    • any proprietary software.

    Simply deleting the files will not remove them. A hacker can restore them! You must use a disk-cleaning utility that overwrites all the sectors of the hard drives. That makes the data unrecoverable. Here are some recommended disk cleaning packages:

    One other option is to simply remove the hard drives. While this forces the charitable organization to buy a new hard drive and a new copy of the operating system (typically Windows), hard drives are very inexpensive and Microsoft often offers a break to non profits.

  6. If possible, keep the operating system intact.

    Most computers come with a preinstalled Microsoft Windows operating system, but this license is only valid when it is kept on the machine on which it was originally installed. Help the charitable organization save the cost of purchasing a new copy by leaving it on the system.

  7. Provide the original software cd's/ dvd's and manuals

    The manual and installation CD's will help the organization maintain a legal right to use the software and reinstall , if need be. The original disks, Certificate of Authenticity sticker (usually on the manual or the computer), and other documentation will help!

  8. Follow the Refurbisher / Recycler's packaging and delivery instructions.

    Many organizations have packaging and delivery instructions they expect donors to follow.

  9. Don't forget your tax benefits!

    Keep a list of what you donated for your tax records. You are probably eligible for a deduction if you donate to a nonprofit. Most refurbishers will provide a tax receipt upon request. The "Computers for Schools Canada's free Used Computer Evaluator." can help you determine fair market value.
  10. When you buy a new computer, save the boxes and manuals for a future donation.

    Make donating your next computer easier by saving the box, packing foam, instructions

Additional Computer Donation Tips?

The following sites also have information about donating used computers:

Computer and Electronic Component Recyclers

The following companies have identified themselves as recyclers of computers and/or electronic components.

Most of the companies listed below recycle only computers, but some may accept other electronic components as well. Some companies recycles only monitors, and this will be indicated at the bottom of the specific listing. You might also want to check the Fluorescent Lamp and Ballast Recyclers List since some fluorescent lamp recyclers are now recycling CRTs.

For further recycling information, you can consult the Office of Pollution Prevention's TARP2 list of recycling resources , or you can check the Ohio Dept. of Natural Resources - Recycle Ohio WWWWW page

Also see the Electronics Recycling Initiative , developed by the National Recycling Coalition and the National Electronics Product Stewardship Initiative facilitated by the Center for Clean Products and Clean Technologies at the University of Tennessee.

National and general recyclers:

Where to Take or Send Your Computer for Reuse, Refurbishing or Recycling: Manufacturer and Retailer Programs

Manufacturers and retailers take different approaches to give you several options to donate or recycle your electronics. p>

  • Offer takeback, mail-in, or trade-in programs;
  • Support local organizations that collect equipment;
  • Host collection events at retail locations; or
  • Support local recycling events with cities and municipalities.

AT&T Reuse and Recycle

  • Reuse & Recycle Program offers you the option to bring unwanted cell phones, Personal Data Assistants (PDAs) and other accessories (regardless of the manufacturer or carrier) to an AT&T operated store or participating authorized dealer store near you. Use the store locator to find a participating store near you.
  • For information on holding a cell phone recycling collection at your business or in your community, please visit AT&T's online starter kit for donations .

Best Buy

  • Drop off old cell phones, rechargeable batteries, and ink-jet cartridges at the free recycling kiosks located just inside the door of every US Best Buy store.
  • New cell phone customers receive free, postage-paid envelopes to mail old phones to ReCellular, Best Buy's cell phone reuse/recycling partner.
  • Grants are available for nonprofit organizations, cities, counties, or public-private partnerships to help increase the recycling opportunities of a broader array of electronic equipment (e.g., computers, TVs,) in communities across the country.
  • Hosts and/or sponsors more than 100 weekend electronic recycling events each year at store parking lots across the US.


  • RECONNECT (specific cities within California, Michigan, New Jersey, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Texas only) is a comprehensive electronics recovery, reuse and environmentally responsible recycling partnership between Goodwill Industries and Dell, Inc. for consumers in participating communities.
  • Recycling and Donation
  • Asset Recovery Services


  • Rethink Initiative provides information, tools and solutions that make it easy to find new users for idle computers and electronics, and responsibly recycle unwanted products.



LG Electronics

  • Offers consumers a free mail-in recycling program for old cell phones and their accessories (any make or model). Simply box up your old phone and accessories, print off the pre-paid mailing label from their Web site and mail in the phone for recycling.
  • Offers consumers free take back and recycling of any product such as televisions, monitors, audio equipment, video cassette players and recorders, DVD players and recorders, combination TV/VCR and TV/DVD units, set top boxes and accessories associated with those products that have the LG, ZENITH or GOLDSTAR brands. Consumers can drop off up to 5 items at any one time for free at any of these locations .


NEC Display Solutions


  • Offers a free mail-in recycling program for old cell phones. Simply print a prepaid shipping label and send in your unwanted phones. Additionally, consumers can pick up a prepaid shipping envelope at any of the Nokia flagship stores in Chicago and New York.

Office Depot

  • Tech Recycling Boxes ($5-$15 depending on size) are available at participating stores. You can fill the boxes with as many used consumer electronics (cell phones/PDAs, computers, televisions, etc) as will fit and drop the unsealed boxes off at any Office Depot store to be recycled.
  • Every store has kiosks where consumers can drop off used cell phones, batteries and accessories.


  • Offers a mail-in recycling program to customers who want to recycle Samsung cell phones and accessories. Simply box up your old phone and accessories, print off the pre-paid mailing label from the Web site and mail in the phone for recycling.


Sony Ericsson

  • Offers consumers the ability to print pre-printed shipping label from their Web site and mail in old devices (any make or model) free of charge.
  • Offers an event based cell phone recycling program. For more information on setting up a cell phone recycling program in your area, contact Steve Coston ([email protected]).


  • Offers two cell phone recycling programs for consumers:
    • The Sprint Buyback program offers Sprint customers an account credit for returning eligible Sprint and Nextel models of phones.
    • The Sprint Project Connect program is available to all consumers. It accepts wireless phones, batteries, accessories and connection cards for recycling - regardless of make, model, condition, or service provider.
    You can participate in either program at no charge by visiting Sprint's Web site or a Sprint retail store. Use the store locator to find a participating store near you.
  • Sprint provides consumers with the free cell phone data eraser tool to clear any personal information from the phone.


  • EcoEasy offers consumers in-store recycling of computers, monitors, printers, desktop copiers and other electronic waste for a fee of $10 per item
  • All Staples stores offer in-store collection bins where consumers can drop-off cell phones, PDAs, chargers, other handheld electronics, and ink and toner cartridges for recycling ($3 rebates are available for some eligible toner cartridges).


  • Handset Recycling Program offers both in-store drop-off locations and a mail-in recycling option for cell phones, PDAs, and accessories. To use the mail in option, simply box up your mobile devise and accessories, print off the pre-paid mailing label (PDF) (1 pg, 1.2MB, about PDF) from the Web site and mail in the phone for recycling.
  • Postage paid recycling bags are included with all purchases. Customers can also pick up a recycling envelope at any T-Mobile store. Use the store locator to find a participating T-Mobile store in your area.



  • Verizon Wireless' HopeLine program collects no-longer-used wireless phones and equipment in any condition from any service provider. The used phones are either refurbished for reuse or recycled. Used phones can be returned to any Verizon Wireless retail store across the country. Use the Store Locator to find the Verizon store closest to you.
  • Wireless phones and equipment donations can also be sent to:

    Verizon Wireless HopeLine
    c/o ReCellular Inc
    2555 Bishop Circle W.
    Dexter, MI 48130

Additional initiatives that support reuse and recycling

Government-Supported Donation and Recycling Programs Exit EPA

Preventing waste in the first place is usually preferable to any waste management option...including recycling. When you outgrow your computers, cell phones and other equipment, and pass them on to new users, that's reuse/b>. Learn more about the benefits of Reusing and Donating Electronics. If donation for reuse or repair is no longer practical, you can send your used electronics for recycling. Electronic equipment can be recycled for recovery of metals, plastics, glass and other materials. To find a program in your community, you might want to start with your state or local government's Web site. The following Web sites provide examples of government-supported ecycling programs and additional sources of information:

  • e-cycle St. Louis: Electronics Recycling for the Region
    This consumer electronics collection program has been developed by the St. Louis Regional Partnership for Electronics Recovery to encourage reuse and recycling of unwanted electronics in the St. Louis region.

    This Web site provides guidance and information to consumers in California about recycling electronics.

  • Federal Electronic Challenge
    If you are a government agency or a business, check out the Federal Electronics Challenge for tools on how a large institution can donate or recycle its used electronics.

    ThThis resource kit provides information on the entire lifecycle of electronics and contains useful information to help you address your e-waste concerns.

Computer Donation in the United Kingdom

General Donation-based Companies and Nonprofits

Specific Recycling Companies

5R Processors, LTD.
N5779 White Street
Glen Flora, WI 54526
Phone: (715) 474-3317
Fax: (715) 474-3326
Contact: Bonnie Dennee
E-mail: [email protected]

Note: SeServices lower 48 states.

PO BOX 218
Phone: (715) 322-5100
Fax: (715) 322-5115
E-mail: jdm/[email protected]

Chase Electronics
166 Academy Lane
Upper Darby, Pennsylvania 19082
Phone: 610-449-8160
Fax: 610-449-6393
Contact: Chase Electronics

COMPRENEW Corporation
8195 Graphic Drive
Belmont, MI 49306
Phone: (616) 866-3100
Fax: 616-866-3400
Contact: David Perry
Note: Accepts all types of computer and electronic equipment for recycling, asset management and remarketing.

Corporation for Educational Technology,
"Buddy up with Education"
6321 LaPaz Trail, Suite 200
Indianapolis, IN 46268
Phone: (800) 53-BUDDY
Fax: (317) 328-7296
Contact: Ed Harper

DMC Electronics Recycling
16 Swamscott Street
P.O. Box 146
Newfields, NH 03856
Phone: (800) 347-5560
Fax: (603) 772-5420
Note: Accepts all types of computer and electronic components for recycling. ISO 14001 approval and zero landfill policy.

Envirocycle, Inc.
Rt.81 Exit 68, PO Box 899
Hallstead PA 18822-0899
Phone: (570) 879-2862
Toll Free: (800) 711-6010
FAX: (570) 744-5765
E-mail: [email protected]
Contact: Tina Haley

Note: Specializes in recycling CRTs , in addition to computers and most other electronic devices.

Goldsmith Group
2107 North Adams St.
Indianapolis, IN 46218
Phone: (317) 545-4883
Fax: (317) 545-4883
E-mail: [email protected]

Goodwill Computer Recycling Center
2600 East Carson St.
Pittsburgh, PA 15203
Phone: (412) 481-9049

Hewlett Packard (HP)
Roseville, CA
Phone: (208) 472-3494

Any HP or non-HP brands of personal/office computer equipment or peripherals are accepted. This includes printers, scanners, fax machines, personal computers, desk-top servers, monitors, handheld devices, etc. - along with their associated external components such as cables, mice, keyboards, etc. Larger computer equipment is accepted through the custom quote service .

Indiana Materials Exchange
3006 Olcott Blvd.
Bloomington, IN 47401
Phone: (800) 968-8764 toll free phone (inside Indiana only)
Phone: (740) 397-7675
Fax: (740) 397-7649
[email protected]

Northeast Surplus & Materials, LLC
440 Shonnard Street
Syracuse, NY 13204
Phone: (315) 677-5246
Fax: (315) 476-7708
Contact: [email protected]


Ohio's Materials Exchange (OMEx)
c/o Waste Alternatives
PO Box 70
Mt. Vernon, Ohio 43050
Phone: 888/718-OMEx (6639)
Fax: 740/397-7649

Ohio Surplus
1730 Hubbard Rd
Youngstown, OH 44505
Phone: (330-502-6642
Steve Klein
Note: Accepts any amount of computer related scrap

Ohio Technology Access Project (OTAP)
Dayton Microcomputer Association
119 Valley Street,
Dayton, Ohio 45404
Contact: [email protected]
937/222- 2755
Note: Refurbish computers and provide them to people with handicaps, limitations, challenges and special needs, and to institutions that serve these individuals.

SCROUNGE - Student Computer Recycling to
Offer Underrepresented Groups in Education
Pennsylvania State University
101 South Frear Lab
University Park, PA 16802
Phone: (814) 863-7688 or (814) 865-0678
Fax: (814) 863-8286
Contact: Remy DuPasquier
E-mail: [email protected]

The Oak Ridge National Recycle Center (TORNRC)
East Tennessee Technology Park
2010 Hwy. 58, Ste. 2111, Bldg. K-1036
Oak Ridge, TN 37830-2111
Fax: (865) 241-3524
Contact: Athena Lee Bradley, Manager of Environmental Affairs at
(865)241-3525 or by Email: [email protected]

Note: We focus on reconditioning, refurbishing, remarketing and recycling Computers and Peripherals; Subassemblies and Components; Central Office and Communication Room Equipment; Office Equipment; Utility and Power Equipment; Process Equipment; Metals; Laboratory and Analytical Equipment.

United Recycling
3700 N. Runge Avenue
Franklin Park, IL 60131
Phone: (800) 270-8220
Fax: (847) 455-3232
Contact: Ann Kunderer
E-mail: [email protected]

Note: offers a service for smaller, individual needs, which is similar (but with a little twist) to the Xerox program. For $27.99, United Recycling Industries will send customers a kit containing a shipping label to affix to a box, as well as a discount of 6 to 9 percent on Compaq products. Participants can ship up to 70 pounds of electronics, including computers, printers, monitors, keyboards, external modems, and fax machines. United refurbishes and donates usable computers to local charities and recycles the components and materials of items which can not be reused.

United Recycling also services bulk shipments of electronics from businesses and community collections.

List Servers

CompRecycle Listserv

A national computer recycling listserv. To subscribe to the list, send e-mail to:
[email protected]
- Leave the Subject line blank
- In the Message Text area enter: " sub CompRecycle Your name "

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