Can You Throw Away a Computer in the Trash?

computer-in-trash

Computers are one of the numerous devices that depict how much technology has advanced. Everything about computers has evolved. We have literarily moved from the massive, colossal old computers to the new lightweight models flooding the market now and then. 

However, like every other device, computers have a lifespan. And when that time comes, you wouldn’t need an expert to tell you to get a replacement. The machine might suddenly pack up, or the display might refuse to come up. 

Faced with such a scenario, most people would choose the easy route – dump their old computers in the trash. To them, the computer is like every other trash. So there’s no reason why they shouldn’t toss it in the trash can. 

This post takes a critical look at whether dumping a computer in the trash is right or not. After reading, you should be able to make an informed decision. Read on!

Is It Safe To Throw a Computer in the Trash?

No, it’s not safe to throw a computer in the trash. That’s the plain truth. So, if you have been doing such, it’s time to stop. Keep in mind that dumping a computer, laptop, or tablet in the trash isn’t safe for the environment. Additionally, such a decision might also come back to haunt you.

Not convinced as to why throwing a computer in the trash isn’t a wise decision. Keep reading.

The below reasons why you shouldn’t dump a laptop in the trash or dumpsite should convince you to start doing the right thing. 

1. Your data can fall into the wrong hands

This sounds odd or surprising. Isn’t that so? But that’s what could happen when you dump your used computer in the trash. If the device’s hard disk drive is still intact and someone gets a hold of it, they could access the data stored in it.

Imagine what could happen when your data or credit card information falls into the hands of a hacker. If not credit card information, it could be highly confidential documents about your property, company, or clients. 

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So, avoid the temptation of dumping used and old laptops, tablets, or computers in a trash can. There are other better ways to dispose of them.

2. Dumped computers may sit in landfills for years

It’s crucial to know that computer systems that you’ll find on the market come made of non-biodegradable materials. That is, the materials don’t break down. 

So, when you throw your computer in the trash, keep in mind that there’s a slight chance that someone might salvage it before it ends up in a landfill. And when deposited in the landfill, the device can remain there for many years. Don’t forget that computers are built with non-biodegradable materials. 

So, imagine how much space computers will occupy in landfills if hundreds of them get dumped in the trash can by users daily. It won’t take long before the issue becomes unbearable. 

3. Flame retard and toxic heavy metal

Laptop computers contain many heavy metals that don’t degrade quickly. On top of that, these heavy metals are carcinogenic. 

Examples of heavy metals present in laptops include cadmium, mercury, lead, and chromium. Now, how does the heavy metal make disposing of laptops in trash dangerous?   

When you throw your laptop in the trash, there’s a high possibility that it would eventually end up in the landfill. But that’s not all. Over time, the heavy metals in the laptop can find their way into the soil and to the local water supply, leading to serious health risks for people consuming the water. 

Furthermore, heavy metals can damage the soil. So, if you’re fond of throwing a used laptop in the trash, have in mind that you’re putting the environment at considerable risk. 

What Happens If You Throw a Computer in the Trash?

Most regions don’t allow the dumping of computers in the trash. In such places, when the sanitation workers find a computer in your waste, you could be in trouble. But, if you’re where the dumping of computers in the trash doesn’t matter, hear this out. 

The sanitation workers would take the trash away and dump everything (including the laptop) in a landfill. Do not bank on them hauling the computer off before emptying the dirt in the landfill. They don’t have the workforce to be doing such regularly. 

We can’t stress it enough that computers boast several heavy metals. These metals are necessary for the device to function aright. There would have been no cause for alarm if you had disposed of your laptop properly. 

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So, when you trash your computer in the trash and end up in a landfill, expect the heavy metals, it contains to find their way into the soil. And when they do, it would only be a matter of time before they show up in your local water supply and mess up the soil in the area. 

These heavy metals can also prevent plant growth in that area and result in the death or poisoning of many other creatures. 

Another thing you need to know is that materials used in manufacturing computers are non-biodegradable. So, when dumped in a landfill, they’ll remain there for hundreds and thousands of years. 

Imagine the vast space computers would occupy in landfills if thousands of them get disposed of now and then. It would be massive. Most people may argue that they have only thrown one computer in the trash all their life and thus, they haven’t done anything terrible. 

Now, remember planet earth comprises billions of people. And a huge percentage of earth’s population uses or has access to computers or other related devices.

So, imagine if everyone decides to dump their computers in the trash. You can’t even imagine how damaging such an action would be to our environment. It would be massive.

How To Properly Dispose of an Old Computer?

You have succeeded in upgrading your computer. And now you feel the need to dispose of your old one to free up space to store the new one. It’s normal. Computers aren’t built to last forever. People’s taste for things changes over time, too.  

However, one thing you must avoid is dumping your old computer in the trash. Avoid such at all costs. If you’re eager to dispose of your old computer, adhere strictly to the steps below. 

Consider running a backup

Even though you no longer find your old computer attractive, that doesn’t mean you should give it away. You may have massive data stored there. Thus, backing the computer before disposing of it is the best option. 

You can acquire an external hard drive and store your data there. For most people, the best option would be to store the data in the clouds. Whichever works for you, that’s what you should consider doing.

You need to remove all your data and software from the hard disk before disposing of your old computer. Don’t let your personal information fall into the wrong hands. 

What you need to do is to delete files stored in the hard drive, all of them. Next, uninstall every single piece of software, clear browsers, and factory-reset your laptop.

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Gift a relative or friend

If you plan to dispose of an old laptop that is still in excellent working condition or repairs won’t take much funds, consider giving it to others in need. You never know who might need it until you ask around. 

You can dispose of your old laptop by donating it to a charity organization. And please don’t assume the charities organizations don’t need it. They do, and you’ll never figure out until you visit them. 

Have the computer recycled

If your old computer isn’t working and disposing of it is the only feasible option, consider recycling it. Big brands like Apple and Dell would recycle old laptops. You’ll also find a range of drop-off locations around. 

Can You Recycle Computer Monitors?

Yes, old computer monitors are recyclable. You can also choose to donate to charity or gift it to someone else if your monitor is in excellent working condition.

It’s also essential to have in mind that nonfunctional CRT monitors boast several valuable metals. These include metals like copper and aluminum. So, if you have many CRT monitors, you can make some profit by scrapping them. 

However, computer monitor scrapping isn’t an easy task. You have to receive each part individually and manually too. So, it’s a lot of work, but the best option is to dispose of a nonfunctional monitor. 

Can You Recycle Computer Accessories?

Yes, you can. Several electronic recycling drop-offs exist. If you’re not familiar with them, you can ask around. Then after locating one, inquire about the type of computer accessories they recycle. 

In general, electronic recycling drop-offs accept the following computer accessories:

  • Keyboards
  • Graphics card
  • Motherboards
  • Power supply
  • Hard disk drive
  • Computer cables
  • Computer speakers
  • Memory RAM sticks
  • Computer mouse (mice)
  • Laptop and desktop computers
  • Old, broken, and nonfunctional computer monitors 

Conclusion

There’s absolutely no point in throwing computers in the trash when you can safely hand them over to a recycling company. You’re causing irreparable damage to the environment if you throw your computers in the trash. 

The reason is that computers boast heavy metals, such as mercury, cadmium, chromium, and lead, which can destroy the soil and affect with local water supply. Additionally, computers don’t degrade. So, when they end up in a landfill, they’ll remain there for thousands of years. 

We discussed the best way to dispose of old or nonfunctional computers, and we hope you’ll start doing the right thing henceforth. 

About Sarah Walker

Sarah is a homemaker and is passionate about fixing little things in and around her house. She loves to do DIY hacks and keeps on writing about those things in her blog. When she is not writing, she keeps herself busy with her twins Cathy and Mickey.