To Re-purpose or Recycle? What should we do with our old computers?
It’s a question all our customers eventually ask.
First, DO NOT throw them out in the trash, since it is not environmentally friendly and is probably illegal. Most states and even cities or smaller municipalities have laws prohibiting standard waste disposal of computers and other electronics.
That essentially leaves us with two options. To Repurpose or Recycle?
The decision to repurpose centers around a computer’s usefulness. Is it useful in general and is it useful to the organization or person it will be donated to? There are exceptions, but a computer less than 5 years old has some general level of usefulness and can be put to good use by someone else. The lifespan of a quality computer is about seven to eight years.
We must also determine whether the computer has any usefulness to the organization or person. The following questions help make that determination.
1. How will it be used?
a. It may be perfect for business software or searching the web for homework assignments, but too old to support or effectively run newer versions of applications or games.
2. Is it compatible with an organization’s technology environment?
a. Many organizations, including your local school or charity, have specific technology requirements. The operating system (or version), computer brand, and even the physical configuration must be considered. It is best to ask the organization upfront whether they can use a computer like yours.
3. Will it be cost prohibitive to maintain?
a. If the organization pays for monthly maintenance, it may be too costly for an older computer. However, if the organization (such as a small, non-profit) simply cycles donated computers in as others fail, it could be a perfect home for your old computer.
Once you find the right person or organization, we now come to making the physical donation. You don’t want to donate your personal information, a virus or malware, or any open license software that must legally stay with you or your organization. Lazerware recommends the hard drive to be formatted and reinstall any OEM software that can stay with the computer. In some cases, a hard drive should also be security erased. To help facilitate your donation, Lazerware provides these services at no charge to our contract customers.
As stated earlier, any computer older than 5 years should probably be recycled. It is also the best alternative when you have no place to donate or simply have concerns with unknowingly distributing personal data or a malicious computer virus. The University of Illinois Sustainable Electronics Initiative estimates that each personal computer contains over half of the periodic table. Modern electronics recycling facilities can recover most of these materials. When a computer cannot be repurposed, recycling ensures that valuable raw materials are recovered from used computers and that any waste is disposed of in an environmentally sound fashion.
Lazerware can ensure your old computer is securely, legally and properly recycled. We will drill holes in the hard drive for security purposes and properly dispose of it through our upstream recycling partner.