The Laptop Recycling Process

“Manufacturing a desktop computer and 17-inch CRT monitor uses at least 240 kg (530 lbs) of fossil fuels, 22 kg (50 lbs) of chemicals and 1,500 kg (3,330 lbs) of water — a total of 1.8 tons (1.9 English tons) of materials — roughly the weight of a sports utility vehicle or a rhinoceros,”

E-waste is increasing rapidly as you read this, while precious resources that can be found in discarded laptops are going to waste, and our landfills are poisoning our air and our bodies. We are upgrading and purchasing new computers faster than ever, yet the country is slow to handle its e-waste responsibly. When you simply throw your laptop in the garbage, you are leaving the government and taxpayers to pick up the costs of your irresponsibility. About eighty eight percent of laptops will go right into the landfills.

What is the Laptop Recycling Process?


If the laptop is recycled in the United States by a reputable e-cycling plant, it will first be manually deconstructed. This is due to the abundance of hazardous substances that comprise the laptop. Laptops’ plastic casings and circuit boards are treated with brominated flame retardants. Transformers and monitors along with other devices are filled to the brim with heavy metals, like zinc, lead, chromium and cadmium. The lighting in laptops contains mercury, along with batteries. These parts must be removed and shredded.

Rare precious metals are then extracted including nickel, gold, platinum, indium and lithium are needed to produce personal computers, thus they have a lot of market value. They must be extracted and processed for reuse. Indium alone – which is a substance used for making flat screens has exponentially risen in value – its price has increased by six times in the past five years. It is now more expensive than silver.

Before recycling your laptop, be sure that you either destroy the hard drive or at least wipe it clean of its data. You do not want your personal information getting lost or falling into the hands of a dishonest person. Programs like DataErase and Darin’s Boot and Nuke are helpful when it comes to wiping your computer clean.

If you can not find a responsible recyler who is in a convenient location, you can consider dropping off your laptop at Best Buy, Staples or Office Max to be reused. Best Buy will charge you ten dollars but offer you a ten dollar gift card, Staples and Office Max will charge a small fee. Another chain store that will accept used laptops is Goodwill – they will typically take any brand for free.

Other Ways to Reuse a Laptop Without Using the Laptop Recycling Process

E-waste such as laptops can be handled in a couple of ways. You could throw it out, recycle it, take it somewhere for reuse as described above or you could sell it. Selling a laptop is fairly easy these days, you can turn to Craigslist or Ebay. Manufacturers may offer you the value of your old computer if you return it to them. For example, Apple will give you a gift card to the Apple Store for the value of your depreciated laptop. The laptop recycling process is growing in importance as our landfills are increasing in size. Please dispose of your computer thoughtfully.


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