used with permission from HP Tech@Work
How do I dispose of obsolete computers?
Many of us have similar concerns: Will it cost money? Do I have options? Is it OK to throw old computers in a recycling bin? Is there help available if I’m not sure how to recycle my electronics? Could my personal data be compromised after my old computers leave the office?
If you’re scratching your head over any or all of the above questions, we’ve got the answers for you.
Will it cost money?
No. In fact, it might even save you money. Before you do anything else, check with your original vendor to see if they have a trade-in plan when you’re upgrading your computers. This one simple step can save your small business money while you get your technology up to speed.
Do I have options?
Yes. Some PC vendors offer trade-in programs, so check around. If that’s not an option, you might also consider donating your old computers to support other initiatives on a local or global level. Even though your outdated equipment might not meet your current business needs, they can still give other businesses, organizations and schools a great start on their own technological journeys.
If you’re interested in whether your computers can be of regional help, check with your local Salvation Army or dedicated charities in your area. And don’t forget the tax benefits that can be realized in certain instances.
On a global scale, the nonprofit organization World Computer Exchange can most likely put your obsolete technology to good and sustainable use wherever it’s most needed. Since 2000, the organization has helped 4.9 million young people in more than 3,000 schools, youth centers, libraries and universities in 51 countries.
If you’d rather recycle your old computers, doing it in an environmentally conscious way is crucial.
Can I throw my old computers in a recycling bin?
No. The incorrect disposal of computers and other electronics is a huge environmental threat. Some unethical electronics recyclers ship obsolete technology to developing countries that don’t have the resources to handle it responsibly, resulting in health issues and environmental damage caused by toxic material leaks.
The rate of electronic waste generation, both on a national and global level, is increasing so rapidly that the Environmental Protection Agency is still gathering current national data. Its last official report in 2015 revealed that Americans generated more than 3 million tons of electronic waste. Meanwhile on a global scale, only 16 percent of the world’s e-waste was recycled responsibly in 2014.
In the United States, even just the Lithium Ion batteries found in tablets, smartphones and laptops are a huge problem. When businesses or consumers mistakenly chuck them in a recycling bin, pressure or heat can literally spark a disaster in the back of a dry recycling truck. In fact, the irresponsible disposal of Lithium Ion batteries is one of the leading causes of recycling truck fires, which is why Lowe’s, for instance, has been an environmentally responsible battery drop-off location since 2004.
Is there help available if I’m not sure how to recycle my electronics?
Yes. For instance, the HP Planet Partners initiative aims to responsibly recycle 1.2 million tons of hardware and other supplies. The company’s product repair, reuse and recycle programs help ensure that products maintain their highest-value state over a greater period of longevity.
The Electronics Takeback Coalition also has tips for businesses on how to either donate their old equipment for reuse or find an environmental recycling steward in their respective states. (Check out the map here.)
You can also drop off your old computers, tablets, laptops and smartphones at environmentally responsible big-box stores. For example, Best Buy operates the largest retail collection program in the country, having collected and responsibly disposed of more than 2 billion pounds of electronics and appliances. Plus, the company often offers perks for your recycling efforts. Through Jan. 1, 2020, you can save 15 percent off select HP printers when you bring in any used printer for recycling.
For other recycling drop-off points, check with your local county hazardous waste department or search “computer recycling near me” in Google. Just make sure those electronics recycling companies are branded as EPA complaint or as an e-Stewards Enterprise Recycler.
Will my personal info and data be compromised after my old computers leave my office?
No, not if you wipe them first. Put your IT team to work. Or, if they’re at a loss or already swamped with more pressing needs, many recycling sources or charities can walk you through this process. You can also follow the data-deletion steps for your specific equipment as recommended by professionals who know what they’re doing.
One last very important note . . .
If you’ve chosen to donate or recycle your obsolete computers, don’t forget to add your commitment to sustainability to your company website and other marketing materials. It’ll make both your customers and your employees proud to be a part of your mission to make the world a better place.