Understanding Your Local Recycling Program

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Picking Out Recoverable Scrap inside Computer Components

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If you're getting rid of an old computer, you might not realize that you can make some money off of the scrap metal. Aluminum from the case and copper wires on the inside can be observed with a few quick glances, but there's a lot more metal and other materials that could fetch a nice price from scrap-metal buyers if you're willing to find it. You'll also need to know about the high-value materials that may only be available in small amounts. To figure out what's worth your time, take a look at a few material recovery areas inside computer components.

Hard Drives Are Full of Scrap Material

The hard drive is used to store important information. All of your documents, videos, music, and the files needed to run the computer in general are located on the hard drive. Since it's a device made of moving parts, it can fail due to wear and tear, making recovery efforts a waste unless the information has been backed up.

If you're not keeping the hard drive for future computers, keep in mind that the case is made out of aluminum or steel. The weight can be deceptive, as a lot of the weight comes from the glass-like platters used to store data. There is, however, platinum painted on the platters in a thin layer. 

Instead of screws, some smaller components of the hard drive are held together using rare earth magnets. These magnets are not only valuable to general scrap buyers, but to the niche community of magnet collectors looking for rare earth magnets that are already designed into small, functional pieces.

Computer Case Recycling

The computer case may be one of the biggest areas for recovering metal, but looks can be deceiving. Many modern cases are covered with plastic, which may give the illusion of lower metal content. There may be less aluminum (or steel) used per case depending on the design than in past years, but you can remove the plastic (often in acrylic form) fairly easily.

Sliding tabs are used to lock the plastic covers in place, which can be moved to the side or pressed from the inside to release. If you're just scrapping the computer and don't care about reusing any of the parts, it's possible to just rip off the more difficult parts.

Be sure to wear work gloves, as the metal can become jagged when ripped. Eye protection may be necessary as well to avoid any broken plastic projectiles that may damage your face. The edges of the computer may be sharp due to a quick manufacturing process involving razor-thin cutting for panels and frames.

Contact scrap metal buyers, such as Summit Recycling of Penn Hills, to discuss the computers you have on hand and the possible materials that could be recovered.