Let’s face it: that old laptop collecting dust in your closet drawer at home, or stacked like so many pizza boxes in your office or server room, won’t disappear on its own. But take heart; we feel your pain, and we’ve got you covered..
As technology advances at vision-blurring speeds, the rate at which old laptops are being replaced with new ones has increased significantly, so much so that e-waste is now considered the fastest-growing waste stream on the planet.
Which raises the almighty question: just how do I dispose of an old laptop, and do it responsibly?
Fortunately, there are several eco-friendly options to consider.
- RECYCLE IT
Without question, the fastest and safest way to dispose of an old laptop is to recycle it. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), “recycling one million laptops saves the energy equivalent to the electricity used by more than 3,500 U.S. homes in a year.” As awkwardly constructed as that sentence is (who wrote that, a koala bear?), the encouraging fact remains: when properly recycled, that old laptop of yours can help save enough energy to power your home.
All very well and good indeed, but now a word of caution: know your recycler.
A good e-waste recycling company will be appropriately accredited (R2 and e-Stewards are industry standards), maintain the latest data destruction currency (DOD wiping, hard drive shredding and degaussing), be transparent with its customer-base (scheduled tours are welcome at our facilities, for example), and if they’re anything like us, offer drop-off locations and/or come to you. Failing these criteria, it’s best to exercise caution and stay away.
- DONATE IT
Many families without sufficient resources benefit immensely from your laptop donations. And while it’s alway nice to give back, here again you want to make sure that anything you’ve donated containing media or data will be properly sanitized and destroyed. Organizations such as The National Cristina Foundation or Computers With Causes are pioneers in technology reuse and worth looking into. Good stuff. Your local school system or library is also an excellent candidate to consider.
- GIFT IT
Proverbially speaking, if one person’s trash is another person’s treasure, then giving away your old laptop to a family member or a friend in need is worth its weight in gold. While yet another excellent option, please be mindful to protect your personal privacy. Bank information, credit card transactions, personal photos, etc.—should all be properly addressed by wiping clean your hard drive or having it removed before handing off your laptop.
- SELL IT OR TRADE IT
Between eBay and Craigslist, Swappa and OfferUp, a robust marketplace exists for used electronics. Most of these platforms do a great job of providing facile step-by-step instructions for selling your equipment online. It’s worth keeping in mind, however, that some auction sites, like eBay, will take a percentage from your sale.
Many manufacturers like Hewlett-Packard, Apple and Dell offer trade-in programs for laptops and computers, which is another viable option worth exploring. And while certain conditions have to be met to qualify for a trade-in, nevertheless most of these companies offer in-house recycling programs that can service your needs.
So whether you choose to recycle your old laptop, or give it away, by adhering to one of these four options you can rest assured that your old Gateway, a little beat up and a little slow, may still be serviceable yet in a circular economy.