How to Dispose of an Old Laptop Securely?

Most of us have at least one old computer or laptop we have no clue how to get rid of. On one hand, these devices contain a lot of sensitive information which can be misused by the wrong people, on the other hand, there are very few curbside recycling programs that accept these devices. 

For the more environmentally conscious crowd, it is obvious that these devices cannot just be thrown into the trash, what is less obvious is what to do with them. This article will give you a step-by-step guide on how to dispose of your old laptop. It will first explain why it is crucial that these devices do not end up in landfills, then we will go over how to prepare the computer for disposal, and lastly, we will look at all the options available to us on how to dispose of these electronics. 

How to Dispose of an Old Laptop Securely?

Devices like laptops mustn’t end up in landfills for several reasons, laptops contain: 

  • precious metals like gold and silver
  • other metals like aluminium, chromium, and titanium
  • heavy metals like mercury, lead, and cadmium
  • other recyclable parts like plastic parts, glass, etc.
  • reusable parts like hard drives 

Laptops are resource-heavy materials, which means they contain a lot of materials that can be recycled and reused. Moreover, laptops are a type of electronic waste that contains heavy metals that can leach into the soil and harm the surrounding ecosystem and human health. 

All things considered, it is an awful idea to toss your old laptop into the trash. There are, however, many options you can look into to get rid of your laptop; but first, you have to make sure you remove all sensitive information from your device. 

How to clean all information from your laptop before disposal: 

Laptops are an integral part of our lives but like most technology, they wear out or become obsolete as newer updates flood the market. But these devices contain much sensitive information such as bank account details, personal files, and official documents. 

Before giving them away make sure you follow the below steps to ensure no one with malicious intent can access your information. 

  • Take some time to transfer all important documents and files into a portable hard disc or onto cloud storage like Google drive or dropbox.
  • Now deauthorize your computer, it is important to do this to ensure no one else can access your paid software subscriptions like Adobe Photoshop. You can learn how to deauthorize your computer here.
  • Take some time to destroy any sensitive information you have on your PC. In Windows, you can use a program like CCleaner or Eraser to securely remove any important document. Mac has a built-in program that allows you to do so, just select your files in the Trash folder and choose the option “Empty trash securely” to remove these files for good.
  • Now make sure to clean out your browser history and then uninstall all your programs.
  • Now you can factory reset your computer and format it.

In some cases, if the laptop is broken and cannot be switched on, you’ll have to remove the hard drive manually and either take it to a specialist who can wipe it clean or in the worst-case scenario, destroy it. 

After your laptop is wiped clean of data, you have several options to dispose of it. 

How can you Dispose of Your Laptop safely: 

When it comes to getting rid of an old laptop, here are your options: 

  • Donate it. Check your local charities to see if any of them accept old, functioning electronics for underprivileged people.
  • Sell it. There are many second-hand marketplaces where old electronics are bought and sold. Many of these are online, but you can check to see if physical stores exist as well.
  • Exchange it from specific retailers for a small cash sum. Retailers like Best Buy or Staples take in old laptops and in exchange give away a small sum of cash. Most Apple computers can be exchanged as well as HP and Dell.
  • Reuse parts of the laptop. There are many creative ways you can use an old laptop. You can use it as a storage device, or an extra screen. You’ll find more ideas here on how to repurpose your old laptop.
  • Check your local recycling options for electronics. Most curbside recycling will not accept old laptops; but, many legitimate recycling companies do take in laptops. Check online for any options available to you. 

If none, absolutely none of these are feasible options, you may have to throw your laptop in the trash. Keep in mind, however, even though this is an option, it does more damage than good. Laptops contain harmful chemicals that hurt the environment and human health. They also have precious metals that should be reused, since they are scarce. In this day and age with mounting electronic waste, it is wise to find better fates for our old devices even if it is slightly inconvenient for us. 

Conclusion: 

Most of us have at least one old computer or laptop we have o clue how to get rid of. On one hand, these devices contain a lot of sensitive information which can be misused by the wrong people, on the other hand, there are very few curbside recycling programs that accept these devices. 

For the more environmentally conscious crowd, it is obvious that these devices cannot just be thrown into the trash, what is less obvious is what to do with them. This article gives you a step-by-step guide on how to dispose of your old laptop. It first explains why it is crucial that these devices do not end up in landfills, then we went over how to prepare the computer for disposal, and lastly, we looked at all the options available to us on how to dispose of these electronics. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs): How to Dispose of Old Laptops Securely

Can I throw my old laptop in the trash? 

It is highly recommended that you don’t. Depending on where you live it may even be illegal. It is illegal to throw electronics in the trash in many parts of Europe and the United States. 

What can I do with my old laptop then? 

You can sell it, exchange it in a select store for a small cash sum, donate it, repurpose it, or recycle it. 

Why is it important to recycle laptops? 

Laptops have scarce resources like precious metals, heavy metals, which can be reused. Moreover, most parts of the laptop are recyclable, and recycling laptops saves a significant amount of energy. 

Are old laptops bad for the environment? 

Yes, the LCD screens in laptops are particularly toxic. Moreover, it contains heavy metals like lead, mercury, and cadmium which are all teratogenic and can cause severe developmental delays. 

Why is it important to remove sensitive information from a laptop before giving it away? 

There are always malicious actors in the hunt for sensitive information. Bank transaction information, for example, compromises your account’s security and makes your account prone to hacking. 

Is it illegal to throw away old laptops? 

In many states in the US, as well as many European countries, it is illegal to throw away electronics. 










References: 

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