Small Business Technology

Getting Rid of Old PCs

Wondering how to get rid of an old PC? Don't throw it away unless you enjoy polluting the environment. In this article, we cover some eco-friendly ways to dispose of an old PC.

Getting rid of an old PC? We've got the inside scoop on recycling old PCs, PC trade-in programs and other clever ways to get rid of an old PC.

Throwing away old PCs is not eco-friendly. All you're doing is cluttering up the environment with waste.

An old PC contains plastics, lead, cadmium, chromium, and mercury -- poisons that leech into the soil and contaminate our oceans and lakes.

In fact, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently identified used computer equipment as the fastest-growing waste problem in the United States. Analyst group Gartner projects that 133,000 PCs are thrown away every day.

If you have an old PC that you need to get rid of, take a more environmentally friendly approach.

Here are five good ways to dispose of an old computer.

Recycling Old PCs

By getting your old PC into the hands of a reputable recycler, you prevent hazardous materials from entering the landfills. Reusable materials in the PC can be salvaged and the really bad stuff can be disposed of safely.

Manufacturers such as Apple, Dell, Hewlett-Packard, and IBM will recycle equipment for you. Sometimes, there is a small fee.

Many municipalities have PC recycling events or facilitate free or low-cost curbside pickups. Call your city hall and ask if they have a PC recycling program.

You can also visit a neat website called Earth 911. They provide detailed listings of reuse and recycling centers specializing in old computers. You can enter your zip code on the site and find the nearest computer recycling facility.

Trading In an Old PC for a New PC

With an old car, you can trade it in to buy a new car. Can you do the same thing with an old computer? You bet! For example, Hewlett-Packard is offering businesses a new trade-in and trade-up program for its desktop PCs. Send in your old computer and get a discount on your next one.

You can even trade in a computer from one vendor and buy a new computer from a completely different vendor. Sony has a Dell PC trade-in program, for example. Give them an old Dell PC and they will give you a $500 credit to buy a new Sony PC.

Giving Old PCs to Charity

Donating old PCs to charity is a great way to get rid of an old computer.

For you, an old Pentium 90 PC may be an antique. But for somebody who has never owned a computer, your old PC is a dream come true.

Typically, charity organizations won't accept PCs that are really old unless they can be refurbished. A PC that is older than five years old is probably too old to be given to charity. A computer that isn't working may not be of interest to most charities, although there are some charities that teach computer repair that may be delighted to get your damaged goods.

Computers for Learning, Goodwill, or the Salvation Army will take PC donations. Many local groups do as well.

Giving Old PCs to Friends and Family

Don't forget that you can give an old computer directly to an individual rather than to a charity. Usually, there's somebody you know - perhaps a niece or a nephew -- who will welcome the present.

Sell Old PCs on eBay

As a final solution for getting rid of old PCs, you might consider selling your outdated equipment on eBay. Surprisingly, one man's junk is another man's treasure. You may find that somebody out there is willing to pay you to take away that old computer!

If money isn't a motivator, you can also give away your PC for free online. Services like FreeBe and FreeCycle let you list items you want to give away. The other party gets it for free on one condition - they have to come by and pick up the PC.

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We greatly appreciate any advice you can provide on this topic. Please contribute your insights on this topic so others can benefit.

  • Ton posted on 8/17/2010
    I have an old PC in the garage that I need to throw out, but I don't know how. Can you help? Also, what do I do with the old hard drive?

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