In many states, it's illegal to throw away computers without following proper disposal instructions. These instructions are actually fairly general, as you just need to make sure that computers are separate from the general trash so that garbage collectors can route them properly, or you may need to visit a recycling center on your own. If you're not sure of your area's options, and if you'd like to make a bit of money back for your effort, here's a good way to recycle carefully while getting decent pay rates at recycling centers and private buyers.
Separate Materials For Better Payout
Every material in a computer has a specific raw materials market and recycling process. Different recycling companies have varying rates that change daily depending on market activity, and if you want to maximize the money you get back from your computer's scrap, you may want to immediately hold or sell the materials depending on historic rates.
To make the job easier, be ready to turn in individual materials or whole units. In some cases, the rates may be poor for materials, but the general computer recycling rates may be better. This may be for no reason other than neglecting to change the rates for whole units, but whatever the reason, it's worth your time to keep an eye on both statistics.
A garbage collection professional can provide different recycling bin solutions for your materials. If you need small bins for the scrap pulled from computers, it's as simple as organizing a few trays of different colors. If you don't feel like melting down aluminum cases, a bigger dumpster is useful if you're managing a business removal or simply have a huge stock of obsolete computers.
How Much Effort Is Needed?
For scrapping computers, it's all about how deep you want to go. Aluminum is easily found in the main case/chassis, and can either be stacked like boxes or melted down to blocks like many other metals. There are some heavier pieces such as the heat sink—which can be made of aluminum or copper—that may be worth taking off the side panel of the computer.
Copper is in a few areas aside from the heat sink, such as the power supply unit. This unit supplies power to every component in the computer, and also has a latent charge to prevent severe power failure from damaging the computer due constant on and off charges against sensitive materials. The capacitors inside the power supply can hold dangerous amounts of electricity, so it may be better to recycle it as a whole unit.
Gold is a popular metal to scrap, but it's not found in huge numbers inside a computer. The pins on the bottom of processors and the pins/contacts on memory modules and video cards are usually made of gold, but the effort to remove the gold may not equal the payout unless you have a good removal system and a plan to scrap more computers.
Each material has different methods for melting down if you'd like to create brick storage, but be sure to speak with a garbage collection professional to figure out best practices and the rates at local recycling centers.