Every day in the United States, about 130,000 computers are thrown away. The recyclable material that makes up a computer includes plastic, metal, and glass. Even the attachments you use with your computer can be recycled, like the keyboard, the mouse, the computer speakers, external hard drives, printers and scanners.
While most electronics can be recycled at the local Waste Management authority, some retailers and manufacturers also oversee the process. For example, the Kodak Scanner Recycling Program was created in cooperation with waste management company and recycling companies to ensure that Kodak document scanners were recycled at the end of their operating life. Kodak collects the scanners at designated eCycling drop-off centers nation-wide. Apple launched the Apple Recycle Program which offers an Apple Store Gift Card for your old equipment. Devices that qualify for this program are iPhones or eligible smartphones, iPad, and Mac or PC desktop, notebook computers, and iPods. Several office supply stores also provide recycling options. Visit the EPA website for more information.
Other options for recycling electronics depend on where you live, so look locally. Here in Athens, Georgia, the local electronics recycler is CHaRM (Center for Hard to Recycle Materials). This is a great one stop place for several hard to recycle items. There is no charge for one five gallon bucket of mixed materials and a small fee for larger items. Another great all-volunteer organization that takes computers, monitors, printers and accessories is Free I.T. Athens. They reclaim and refurbish items and offer them for sale or you can volunteer your time and service for a computer.
For general information on items that can be recycled, check with your local recycler or waste management company. Waste Management provides a general listing of items that can be recycled. To search for recycling options for specific items, go to Earth911 where you can search by zip code. Batteries can be recycled through call2recycle. A listing of state eCycling programs is available on E-cycling Central.
Written by Guest Blogger: Mary Fenwick Parish, Graduate Student at the University of Georgia, Master of Historic Preservation