If you look around your office, how many devices do you see? Now, how many of those are old computers that you have replaced but still have sitting around taking up valuable space? You probably already know that you can’t just take this stuff and toss it in the trash can. So, what do you do with that unused equipment?
Here are three things you can do with your outdated electronic devices:
If you have devices in good working order, they might be useful to a local school or other charity. For example, Virginia non-profit Computer CORE has an annual goal of 500 laptop donations. These devices support the organization’s mission “to prepare underserved adults in Virginia to realize career aspirations with foundational digital and professional skills.”
Some sellers offer credit toward a new device in exchange for trading in your old one. The dollar amount varies based on the age and condition of the device. In my experience, it is likely to be less than $100. However, you can easily check your trade-in value online at retailers like Dell, Amazon, Apple, or Best Buy. Many of these stores also offer free recycling services.
Recycling offers a way to recapture and reuse many of the materials that go into making computers and other electronics. In Arlington County, you can schedule online for electronic recycling pickup.
To celebrate America Recycles Day on November 15, Invario is hosting a computer recycling open house at our office in Falls Church, VA. Come by between 9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. to drop off your old computers, laptops, monitors, or cell phones. For more information, click here.
Before You Dispose of Your Old Computer
The most important thing to remember when disposing of old computers is to make sure all of your data is securely removed from the old equipment. Failure to do so opens you up to security risks. Criminals may be able to access your information left on the device and use it to hack into your systems or steal your identity.
- Back up the data, you want to keep. Your old equipment probably has data on it that you want to keep. You can either transfer data to your new device, move it to the cloud, or simply archive it to a storage device.
- Remove all of your information. Most reputable donation, trade-in, or recycling programs are good stewards and will make sure your personal data is removed from the device once it is in their possession. However, I think you can never be too secure. After your files are backed up, I recommend deleting them from the device you plan to dispose of. Also, unlink and uninstall programs. This will remove your login information and also prevent the program from linking to a cloud backup and unintentionally restoring all the data you just deleted.
- Factory Reset the device to its original state.
The Risks of Disposing of Old Computers Incorrectly
Old computer equipment contains toxins like mercury and lead that require special consideration. While Virginia does not currently have a landfill or disposal ban on electronic devices, the District of Columbia and 19 other states do. This means that, in certain places, your company risks being subjected to fines for improper disposal of computer equipment. There are also regulatory considerations related to the cyber security concerns I mentioned above.
In 2019 global electronic waste generation reached a record high of 53.6 million record tons. That number has only continued to grow along with business and consumer demand for more new devices. Knowing how to dispose of old computers properly is something every business needs to know how to do.