Disposing of old laptop computers is a complex process that is not always environmentally friendly. This article discusses how to safely recycle laptops and their parts.
Every computer will eventually reach the end of its useful life. If it is simply and older model that is still in good working order an individual might want to consider cleaning the hard drive and then donating it to a worthy charity.
If, however, the laptop is no longer functional, has a broken screen, or is simply beyond repair, recycling of the computer is far preferred over simply sending it to the landfill. This article presents a basic guide on how to recycle a laptop in an environmentally friendly way.
How To Prepare A Laptop For Recycling
Before trying to recycle laptop computer components it is always important to either wipe the hard drive with a special software utility. If possible remove the hard drive altogether and keep it if there are any concerns about privacy. Some laptop recycling programs ship equipment overseas for processing and may or may not have privacy concerns as a top priority.
How Does Modern Industry Recycle Laptops and other Computers?
Remember that all laptop computers (and all electronic components in general) contain heavy metals that in most cases are soldered onto the motherboard or incorporated into the various components. Some of these metals are toxic to the water supply (lead, mercury, and cadmium) while others are valuable as a reclaimed resource (gold, copper, etc.). A good laptop recycling program will remove as much of the heavy metal components as possible before ultimately crushing the remaining pieces.
Hewlett Packard is one of several computer manufacturers that operate recycling programs for old laptop and desktop computers. As mentioned previously the discarded computers are scavenged for parts then crushed. These pieces are then passed through magnets and other similar processes that remove the aluminum and other easily extracted metals before leaving the plastic remains to be sold as scrap. Other facilities remove the crushing steps and instead melt down the entire device, skimming off and extracting the copper for use in other applications.
Always Verify How The Laptop Is To Be Recycled
If being environmentally friendly and socially conscious is important then verifying the methods and subsidiaries of a recycling program is important. Before handing over the broken hardware find out where the recycling facility is located and whether that facility does the work on site or does partial processing then sends the pieces on to another facility.
Many companies with lofty goals have sent used computers to other countries under the guise of helping to spread the technology to those that cannot afford it. In some cases these scrapped computers wind up being torn apart by individuals hoping to process the metals on their own, often with deadly or debilitating side effects.