How to dispose of an old laptop or computer

Our top tips for old laptop disposal, including security cautions and eco-friendly choices.

6 August 2019

How to dispose of old laptops and computers: laptop sitting on a desk with flowers
Sustainability

Key steps

  • Don’t buy a replacement unless it is necessary.
  • Let children reuse your old laptop or computer for homework.
  • Ask how to dispose of old computers and laptops sustainably at a local electronic shop or recycling centre.
  • Sell on working computers or laptops.
  • Donate working computers or laptops.
  • Always fully wipe your hard drive of personal data before disposal.

Proper and safe computer and old laptop disposal is important both for the environment and for your personal security. Here we’ll show you how to dispose of an old laptop or computer safely. Laptops and computers aren’t the only electronics we have in our home. For e-waste facts and tips for appropriate ways to dispose of electronics, click here.

If you decide to sell or donate laptops or computers, first run a programme designed to wipe the hard drive of your personal data and reinstall the operating system    

How to dispose of old computers and laptops: 5 ideas for sustainable electronics disposal

Knowing how to dispose of a laptop or computer is important to make sure that you are doing so in an eco-friendly way to prevent it ending up in landfill. Read on for five tips including where to recycle an old laptop and more.

1. Reduce your buying. When it comes to e-waste like old laptops and computers, it is first important to decide if you really need to replace them. Buying a new one could be an unnecessary expense if the one you already have is doing the job it’s designed to do!

2. Repurpose your old laptop or computer. Rather than upgrading or replacing your laptop or computer, why not clean it up and reuse it? Give it a new lease of life and let your children use it for homework or playing games. If you decide to clean them up and reuse your old laptop and computer; check out our guides for how to clean your computer and keyboard and how to clean laptops and other devices.

3. Recycle old laptop or computer parts. Don’t just chuck them in your recycling bin, you need to take them to your local waste centre. Many will have an area to recycle electronics. Alternatively, electronics stores know how to recycle laptop and computer parts and will often take them off your hands. You could also recycle them to give them a new lease of life at home. When laptops no longer work, some of their parts may still be usable. For example, the screen could be used as a second monitor in your office.

4. Sell on working computers and laptops. Whilst you may need an upgrade, if your old laptop or computer still works, other people may love to purchase it. First, clear the hard drive properly and then sell it on a local selling site online, or drop it into a pawn shop to see if they would be interested in buying it from you.

5. Donate working computers and laptops. If they still work but you no longer need or want your computer or laptop, why not do some good and donate them? First, run a programme to wipe the hard drive, then check with local libraries, school and social programmes to see if any would be interested in taking them off your hands.

With this simple guide you now have five tips for how to dispose of a computer or laptop to prevent it ending up in landfill. If your laptop is definitely going to be recycled, make sure that you read our article on how to dispose of batteries, to make sure all the parts of your old laptop are appropriately disposed of.