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Recovering Recyclable Materials From Computers

by Antonin Fontai

Computers have a lot of recyclable materials that could give you a bit more cash instead of throwing them into the trash. With fines or refusal to pick up computers, it's probably worth your time to develop a recycling strategy to at least get something back. Take a look at a few recyclable materials inside computers and some easy ways to prepare them for the recycling center.

Examine The Computer Case First

The largest and most noticeable piece of recyclable material is the computer case itself. Cases are mane out of aluminum or steel, but are often covered in plastic-like materials such as acrylic for design purposes.

If you need to separate aluminum or steel from plastic and other components for a metal recycling pile, plastic removal is relatively simple. The plastic covers and face plates are often held in place by plastic tabs that can either be slid out of their slots or pressed for release. In some case, you may even see screws that need to be removed.

Some of the plastic fasteners can be hard to find, so don't frustrate yourself too much by being precise with plastic. If you have some work gloves and cutters, feel free to rip and snip away at the plastic covers. Be careful and wear eye protection, as some plastic pieces may fly away from the computer as the plastic is torn and snapped away.

Metal parts of the case are in the form of both sliding covers and the chassis itself. Inside the case is a series of shelves, casing and other framework used to hold components in place. These can be cut away or left in place for melting down.

Hard Drive Recycling Points

The hard drive is protected by two major pieces of metal, which are screwed together to form a virtually airtight seal. The thick cover material is made out of aluminum in many cases, and can be opened by removing the screws on the casing and the attached circuit board.

Hard drive platters are often sold for the thin coating material to recycling centers or scrappers looking to accumulate piles, although different manufacturers may use a variety of materials for their coating. Platinum was once a major coating material, but other combined coating such as ruthenium alloys or cobalt-chromium-platinum combinations have been used. You'll need to contact the manufacturer to be sure of which coating your drives have.

A more certain recyclable material inside computers is the rare earth magnet cluster. These magnets are used to hold certain components in place instead of using screws, and are sought after by both recycling centers and hobbyists.

If you have the time to scrap computers and would like to know going rates for recycling, contact a recycling center professional to discuss what you may have on hand.