Real Computer Recycling

It can be achieved!

The reality is nearly everything in a computer can be recycled. With our recycling initiative, we try to promote reuse first, but the majority of the computers, laptops servers and communication equipment we deal with are years out of date and beyond repair and reuse. Many have had parts removed or damaged on arrival but they all can be recycled.

Laptops for Recycling

How a standard PC can be recycled:

Keyboards, mice, and other computer accessories are usually made of plastic and are recyclable. The plastic goes through a shredding process and is then sold on the commodities market as mixed plastic scrap.

Some recyclers use optical sorters that create a very clean stream of plastic, with minimal metal contamination. Usually, the plastic is further purified and compounded with virgin plastics and pelletized. This pelletized resin can then be used as a recycled-content plastic.

For example, Recycle IT operated in a supply chain where plastic is processed for reused – to make new parts – a process that has a smaller carbon footprint, lighter environmental footprint and can deliver a cost saving over manufacturing from new materials.

Computer and Laptops

Chassis/Base – these materials are primarily made of metal (PC Chassis) or what’s known as PC/ABS plastics, which are recyclable. Some laptops also feature carbon fibre mixed with polycarbonate plastics to keep the base cool to the touch. This material is not currently widely recycled, but it can be used in waste-to-energy processes.

Printed Circuit Boards (PCBs), processors, and memory – these are made of multiple types of plastics, fibreglass and precious metals that can be recycled. Scrap copper, precious metals like gold, and some other non-ferrous metals are commonly recovered from computer circuit boards and other components.

Personal Computer System Boards

Once these materials have been sorted out they go through more specialized processes, e.g., circuit boards first into copper recovery, followed by specialized refining of the residues to recover other metals. These processes are usually accomplished through smelting or sometimes through hydro-metallurgical processing via acids or cyanide compounds in order to recover gold and other precious metals.

Batteries – when computers and laptops come into our facilities, the battery is removed from the system manually. Once removed, batteries are separated, packaged safely, and sent for recycling.  Once they reach their destination, the plastic casing is manually separated while the rest of the material is refined through a thermochemical process at high temperatures to separate various materials). The result is a metal alloy and a stony waste material separated from metals during the smelting: the metal alloys are further treated to recover cobalt, nickel, copper, and iron; lithium is typically concentrated in the stony waste material and is often recovered.

Computer cables

Cables – wire and cable that is not damaged can be reused directly. The high-grade copper can also be recovered by manually removing insulation with simple tools or by chopping wire into small pieces. After arriving at a specialised facility they undergo a hydrological process in which the small pieces of insulation float while the copper sinks. Unfortunately, the plastic insulation from the wire chopping process is a very hard to recycle and is usually sent to a waste-to-energy facility.

Screens – many manufacturers have stopped using mercury and arsenic in flat panel monitors making it easier to recycle display panels at their end-of-life. The recycling approach for LCD panels involves the separation of the glass substrate, polarizer foils, and the elements indium and copper into individual outputs. This process is carried out in Ireland, and we are delighted to be able to supply screens for safe recycling,

IT Equipment

Fans – made of plastics and metals, which can be separated and recycled.

Other parts – there are other things that go into your computer, like screws, springs, small plastic parts, etc. and they are generally made from the materials above, making them mostly recyclable. They typically make up only a small portion of the overall product.

Packaging – As part of recycling we receive a lot of corrugated cardboard, as well as other materials like plastic bags and creates. We try to reuse these items; we bale cardboard for reuse but some of the materials can’t be reused at present and are sent for heat recovery through incineration.

In support of Recycle IT – please recycle old, unused electronics. It helps the environment with reuse, reduces the mining of new raw materials and creates training and employment for people returning to work after an absence.

About Recycle IT 

Recycle IT, is a social enterprise offering electrical, electronic and metal recycling services through drop-off and collection. Services are provided in partnership with WEEE Ireland and South Dublin County Council. Recycle IT is supported by Pobal and Dormant Accounts and authorized by the National Waste Collection Permit Office and the local authorities across Leinster.

For more information on Recycle IT please call 01 4578321, email or visit our website

Click here to learn more about recycling metal with Recycle IT.

Dormant Accounts Fund Logo
Recycle IT is Part Funded through the Dormant Accounts Fund

2 thoughts on “Real Computer Recycling

  1. Hi We have a number of PCs and laptops that need recycling, but they still have the hard drives installed. We need to ensure teh hard drive is empty, how is this done?


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