Figuring Out The Scrap Potential Of Computers

Do you need to toss out a few old computers that aren't old enough to be collector's items? Are the systems beyond repair, or do you simply not have any storage room to spare? It's best to recycle your systems instead of throwing them to the curb--especially since many areas may not pick up the systems due to electronic waste (eWaste) policies. You have a few options as you plan your recycling method, and an overview of recyclable components inside computers can help you figure out what to do:

Whole Computer Versus Component Scrapping

When you recycle a computer, you can either deliver a whole system as a single unit or break it down into smaller components. The difference is mostly one of cost, but you may have a few interests in mind before letting the whole system go.

Every computer has multiple metals, minerals, and other materials inside the system. Each material has its own recycling price, and although many scrap metals are tied together in a rising and falling trend, they're basically sub-industries that need to be watched carefully and on an individual level.

The normal situation of computer recycling is a stable economy with few, small price changes. This means that recycling centers will likely have an average recycling price for the entire computer that reflects all of the materials inside, and even if your computer's contents are off by a few grams, it won't make much of a difference when you're paid for the materials.

The reason to keep an eye on the industry is if there is a sudden surge or plummet in a specific material's market. If copper suddenly becomes in high-demand and increases by many times its original price, you need to make sure that the recycling center has an up-to-date price for the average computer recycling offer. If not, start pulling out the individual materials and sell them independently.

What Materials Are Worth Your Time?

The recycling market changes on a daily basis, and there's always a chance that a specific material could leap in price--or, in more recent times, suddenly plummet and change erratically because of politics

That said, there are a few core materials that have always had some sort of recycling presence that can at least pay for the gas money to a local recycling center, and will at least be worth a special recycling service:

Aluminum. The computer case, component cases, and heat sinks inside most computers are made of this sturdy, but lightweight material.

Copper. Computer wires are made of copper, as are many electrical traces. Wiring is not always hair-thing; some copper bands such as the coils inside power supply units can be thick enough to toss in the entire power supply. Be careful, as power supplies can hold dangerous amounts of electricity even after being disconnected.

Rare earth magnets. These magnets are inside hard drives only. Although hard drives are slowly being replaced by solid state drives (SSDs) as the computer storage device of choice, they're still a major player in the computer parts world and are still being produced by SSD vendors.

For more information, contact a scrap metal recycling professional to talk about other materials that are worth scrapping.