Once the responsible recycling facility receives a computer, they will sort, grade and prepare it to be de-manufactured.  Next, the computer will be broken down into parts and separated by material.  Both glass and leaded glass can be recycled at this stage.  Plastic is shredded or baled and recycled at this stage.  Metals must be further classified and sorted (aluminum, copper, precious metals, etc.), circuit boards/computer chips are destroyed (*Depending on your recycler.  Some companies simply wipe the information from the devices and re-sell the devices.), then classified and further sorted.  At this point, the different types of metal are able to be recycled.

Think about your own computer going through this process.  The glass screen is removed and recycled during the break-down process.  The keyboard and exterior, either metal or plastic is sorted, shredded and recycled.  Lastly, all the interior components, such as, circuit boards and computer chips are destroyed, sorted by type, shredded and recycled.  All parts of the computer are able to be recycled and re-used, saving tons of natural resources and raw material, keeping toxic chemicals out of the environment and eWaste out of the landfills.

What to look for when choosing a facility to recycle your computer:

  • If you don’t want any chance of old data being restored, a facility that completely destroys all memory-containing devices is best. There have been incidents of data being recovered from devices, even after being wiped multiple times.
  • Make sure the downstream (where the materials eventually end up) is responsible and the material is not just being dumped into a landfill or the environment
  • Proper certifications, licenses and permits. Check government sites; such as, epa.gov and others, for more information!