How to Scrap Computers

Updated April 17, 2017

Computers should be disposed of carefully when they have served their useful life, as some internal components can harm the environment. On the positive side, sell some of the components for cash. Regardless of how you scrap an old computer, do it safely and according to local laws regarding disposing of electronics. Recycle old computers, as they have components made of gold, silver, aluminium and steel. Reuse or recycle all of these parts, but note that some metals appear in specific components more than others do.

Open up the computer to gain access to the components and wiring. Pull out all the wiring, including the grey IDE cables. Most of these are made of steel and not recyclable.

Remove hard drives and break them down. Locate the gold-plated 24 pin connectors and aluminium container for recycling. Save all hard drives for recycling.

Detach the CD ROM drive. Housed in a steel case, they contain gold-plated 24 pin connectors for recycling. Remove the circuit board to gain access to the gold plated items.

Extract any floppy drives. In modern computers, floppy drives are unlikely, but if there are any, they contain 24-pin gold-plated connectors for recycling.

Remove the random access memory sticks. Gold-plated pins are part of the RAM sticks and can be recycled, but they also have silver and platinum properties for recycling.

Unscrew any other items such as cards and take note of the materials available on them such as gold plating, silver or platinum.

Extract the motherboard. The motherboard contains all four precious metals, gold, silver platinum and aluminium.

Detach the CPU from the motherboard by first unscrewing the aluminium CPU cooler. The CPU contains the most gold-plated metal and is the main component that will provide recyclable value.

Scrap the remainder of the computer by taking it to a scrap merchant, including the power unit and the remainder of the metal casing.


To tell if a metal is aluminium, try a magnet on the metal. If the magnet does not stick, it is aluminium.

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About the Author

Andy Carr has been an I.T. and business writer since 2006, after an 18-year career in information technology. Carr writes mainly about technology but is not averse to other topics. His articles have appeared in the "Yorkshire Magazine" and on websites such as He holds a Bachelor of Science from Leeds Metropolitan University.