If you’re wondering what to do with those old computer accessories, the options are plentiful. Whether it’s an old mouse, keyboard, speakers, or other accessory, ways exist to dispose or recycle these items; all it takes is a little research. Many accessories can be resold or used for parts, while others can be taken to special recycling locations.
Items that are in good working order can be sold through the classified ads or on online auction sites. You might even be able to get quite a bit of money if the accessory is for a classic computer system that's in demand by collectors. There are a number of sites that allow users to give away items to interested people for free or for trade as well, which might be more practical for those not-so-vintage systems.
In the United States, some office supply retailers will take old computer accessories off your hands for a nominal fee. Some nonprofit organizations will recycle the non-usable items and send the usable accessories, such as monitors and printers, to schools, organizations, and senior service agencies that can use the items. Even ink cartridges can be reused.
The reason you don’t want to just add your old computer accessories to your household garbage is because these items often contain hazardous waste, such as cadmium, lead, and mercury. According to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), e-waste, a term applied to electronic products nearing the end of their useful life, constitutes close to 75% of the toxic waste found in landfills. Once in a landfill, these items can leach into the soil or end up in the drinking water sources.
Some major computer companies will accept your old accessories for free recycling, especially if you’re about to make a purchase of new computer or accessory. Other companies, known as recyclers or refurbishers, will break down your donations into usable parts and appropriately dispose of the remainder. Refurbishers generally accept computers and accessories that are less than five years old. Similar companies are known as demanufacturers, and they separate the e-waste into small parts, all while wearing respirators to protect them from toxic materials.
Generally, it’s a good idea to reduce, reuse, and recycle all items. In the case of computer accessories, don’t buy more than you need or replace the items more often than absolutely necessary. You can also reuse and recycle those old peripherals that still work by passing them on to friends, neighbors, or community organizations that can use them.