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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.
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.
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.
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.
Make sure they accept the type/brand/model of computer you plan to give away. Some organizations will refuse older models.
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.
To avoid identity theft, wipe out:
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.
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.
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!
Many organizations have packaging and delivery instructions they expect donors to follow.
Make donating your next computer easier by saving the box, packing foam, instructions
The following sites also have information about donating used computers:
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.
Earth 911 is a comprehensive communication medium for the environment. Earth 911 has taken environmental hotlines, web sites and other information sources nationwide, and consolidated them into one network. Once you contact the Earth 911 network, you will find community-specific information on eCycling and much more.
My Green Electronics
Provided by the Consumer Electronics Association, this site is a resource for consumers wishing to purchase green products and/or searching for local opportunities to recycle or donate used electronics.
Electronic Industries Alliance's Consumer Education Initiative
The Electronic Industries Alliance's eCycling Central Web site helps you find reuse, recycling and donation programs for electronics products in your state.
Rechargeable Battery Recycling Corporation (RBRC)
RBRBRC can help you recycle portable rechargeable batteries commonly found in cordless power tools, cellular and cordless phones, laptop computers, camcorders, digital cameras, and remote control toys. Search for collection sites by zip code.
Manufacturers and retailers take different approaches to give you several options to donate or recycle your electronics. p>
Verizon Wireless HopeLine
c/o ReCellular Inc
2555 Bishop Circle W.
Dexter, MI 48130
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/strong>. 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.
8195 Graphic Drive
Belmont, MI 49306
Phone: (616) 866-3100
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.
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.
Goodwill Computer Recycling Center
2600 East Carson St.
Pittsburgh, PA 15203
Phone: (412) 481-9049
Hewlett Packard (HP)
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 .
Northeast Surplus & Materials, LLC
440 Shonnard Street
Syracuse, NY 13204
Phone: (315) 677-5246
Fax: (315) 476-7708
Contact: [email protected]
WE ACCEPT ALL TYPE OF COMPUTER AND ELECTRONICS AT OUR SITE. WE WORK WITH VARIOUS ORGANIZATION IF TRAINING AND JOB CREATION. WE ARE NOW ACCEPTING TRUCK LOADS FROM NEARBY STATES AND CANADA.
Ohio's Materials Exchange (OMEx)
c/o Waste Alternatives
PO Box 70
Mt. Vernon, Ohio 43050
Phone: 888/718-OMEx (6639)
1730 Hubbard Rd
Youngstown, OH 44505
Contact: 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]
Phone: 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.
- 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.
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.
A national computer recycling listserv. To subscribe to the list, send e-mail to:
- Leave the Subject line blank
- In the Message Text area enter: " sub CompRecycle Your name "