How to Dispose of Broken Laptops?

What happens when your laptop breaks? You can’t turn it on, you cannot access your data, what do you do with it? I know I am not the only one who has ended up with her laptop irreparably broken. So now what? You cannot throw it in the curbside recycling. These programs do not accept electronic waste such as broken laptops. Most municipalities do not have electronic recycling programs. 

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 broken laptop. It will first explain why these devices mustn’t end up in landfills, lastly, we will go over how to prepare the computer for disposal.  

How to Dispose of Broken Laptops?

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

  • precious metals like gold and silver
  • other metals like aluminum, 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. Laptops with LCD screens for example can be very damaging to the environment as they contain mercury. Mercury is a toxic metal that can be lethal in higher doses. 

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

Unfortunately, if the machine will not even switch on, this can prove a challenge. Now if the display is broken, you can link it to a monitor and clean all the information from your laptop before you dispose of it. 

If it does not switch on at all, you have the option to take it to the servicing center and they will help you with your sensitive information.

Once you are sure your laptop’s drives are wiped clean. You can dispose of it by any of the following options. 

How can you Dispose of a Broken Laptop safely: 

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

  • Exchange it from specific retailers for a small cash sum. Retailers like Best Buy or Staples take in old or broken 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 a broken laptop. You can take it apart and use the parts in creative ways. You’ll find more ideas here on how to repurpose your 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: 

For the more environmentally conscious crowd, it is obvious that laptops 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 broken laptop. It will first explain why these devices mustn’t end up in landfills, lastly, we will go over how to prepare the computer for disposal.  

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

Can I throw my broken 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 broken laptop then? 

You can sell it, exchange it in a select store for a small cash sum, 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 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 broken laptops? 

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

References: 

  1. Simple Ways to Dispose of Old Laptops: 12 Steps (with Pictures). (2022). Retrieved 31 January 2022, from https://www.wikihow.com/Dispose-of-Old-Laptops
  2. Kantra, S. (2022). How to Safely Get Rid of an Old Computer. Retrieved 31 January 2022, from https://www.techlicious.com/how-to/how-to-safely-get-rid-of-an-old-computer/
  3. How to Dispose of Your Laptop Securely in 4 Steps | AssetCare. (2022). Retrieved 31 January 2022, from https://asset-care.uk/news/how-to-dispose-of-your-laptop-securely-in-4-steps/
  4. How to Get Rid of Your Old Laptop. (2022). Retrieved 31 January 2022, from https://www.laptopmag.com/articles/get-rid-of-old-laptop-2
  5. (2022). Retrieved 31 January 2022, from https://computing.which.co.uk/hc/en-gb/articles/115004416785-How-to-recycle-your-old-computer
  6. How to Dispose of Old Computers Safely. (2022). Retrieved 31 January 2022, from https://shredcube.com/how-to-dispose-of-old-computers/
  7. How To Protect Your Data Before You Get Rid of Your Computer. (2022). Retrieved 31 January 2022, from https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/how-protect-your-data-you-get-rid-your-computer
  8. How to Dispose of Old Computers | Crucial. (2022). Retrieved 31 January 2022, from https://www.crucial.com/articles/pc-users/computer-disposal-how-to-recycle-old-computers
  9. Planning to upgrade a device this holiday season? Here’s how to recycle your old one. (2022). Retrieved 31 January 2022, from https://www.cnet.com/tech/mobile/recycle-your-old-laptops-phones-cameras-and-batteries-for-free-heres-how/
  10. How to Recycle Laptops Safely and Responsibly. (2022). Retrieved 31 January 2022, from https://www.treehugger.com/laptop-recycling-5198862

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