Recycle Computer Monitors

Electronic waste fills landfills quickly.

Making the commitment to recycle computer monitors allows businesses and individuals to not only practice more environmentally friendly disposal techniques, but also to aid in spreading technology to areas where it may be too expensive or otherwise unavailable.

About Monitor Recycling

With technology changing very quickly and new, upgraded technology continually being introduced to businesses and consumers, electronic devices are piling up in landfills at an astonishing rate. The Environmental Protection Agency has estimated that over a five year period more than 250 million computers will become obsolete, and if that equipment is not recycled, if can have disastrous impacts on landfill use and the surrounding ecosystem.

Computer monitors, in particular, are rapidly becoming obsolete. In 1992, the EPA banned cathode ray tubes (CRTs) from all landfills because of their high concentration of lead, which is highly toxic when introduced to the soil or local water supply. More than one-quarter of a monitor's weight is made up of lead, and a single monitor may contain four to five pounds of lead.

Monitor Recycling Benefits

Fortunately, there are many benefits to recycling monitors. Not only will recycling keep dangerous lead out of landfills, but it can also lower the volume of other material - plastics, glass, etc. - in landfills. Furthermore, many computer monitors can be recycled as useful equipment to other organizations, schools, and charity groups that may not have the capital to purchase new equipment on technology's cutting edge. By donating monitors as a way of recycling, businesses and individuals can also claim charitable tax credits and other benefits from their generosity.

Recycling monitors can also reduce the need for strip mining to obtain new quantities of lead and other materials, helping preserve wildlife habitats and minimize industrial pollution simultaneously.

How to Recycle Computer Monitors

There are several ways to effectively recycle computers, including monitors. By understanding the different ways to recycle this equipment, it is possible to conserve and reuse monitors for years.

Personal Recycling

The easiest way to recycle a monitor is to continue using it even after upgrading to a new computer. Even older monitors are digitally compatible with most new computers, and while the screen resolution may not be the same as the latest LCD widescreen monitors, an older device is still serviceable. This can also save consumers a substantial amount of money on a new computer, since newer model monitors generally cost at least $150.

Another option for personal recycling is to attempt to sell the monitor. Placing a classified ad on a free ad website or other source can reach hundreds or thousands of interested buyers, and while an older monitor may not command a high price, a few dollars is always welcome. It is also possible to offer the computer free through an organization such as Freecycle.org.

Donation Recycling

Donating a monitor is another way to keep it out of a landfill and to ensure its usefulness. There are several types of organizations that may be able to use older monitors, such as:

  • Thrift Stores: Donation-run stores can sell monitors to raise money to support a variety of causes.
  • Schools: Elementary and secondary schools, particularly in urban areas where funding for new technology may be scarce, can often use donated equipment.
  • Non-profit Charities: Humane societies, food banks, or other groups can use the equipment for administrative purposes.
  • Vocational and Technology Classes: Classes at local schools or universities can use monitors for experiments, training, or demonstrations.
  • Refurbishers: Refurbishers will use the monitor's component parts to create new equipment at lower prices. Some refurbishers will even pay a nominal fee for good quality monitors or may offer a credit toward a future purchase.
  • International Agencies: Many charitable agencies collect electronic equipment as donations to foreign countries where technology is scarce and older models are highly valuable.

Disposal Recycling

Businesses can recycle many monitors.

If a monitor cannot be reused because it is too obsolete or damaged, disposal recycling may be the only recourse. State laws regarding the disposal of CRT monitors vary, but most states offer some program for how to recycle computer monitors. Most major computer manufacturers offer a recycling program for a minimal cost or even free with a new computer purchase, or consumers can investigate independent agencies that specialize in recycling computer parts. To have the least environmental impact possible, it is best to find a local computer recycling sites and therefore eliminate shipping costs and reduce the resources necessary to recycle the monitor.

The following online resources can help with disposal recycling:

More Tips for Monitor Recycling

When you're ready to recycle your monitor, consider the following tips:

  • Reusing or donating the monitor to be used elsewhere is the most effective form of recycling
  • If the monitor is to be donated, include all cords, stands, manuals, and other accessories so it is as useful as possible
  • Monitors do not store personal information so no cleanup or file protection is necessary

A Note About Newer Monitors

Newer computer monitors, particularly non-CRT models, are especially valuable for schools, charities, and other organizations. Older monitors have limited uses and lower quality displays, but newer models will be much more useful. Non-CRT monitors can also be disposed of in landfills safely, but recycling is still a better alternative.


It is possible to recycle computer monitors for years by reusing them, donating them to different charities, and eventually ensuring that they are safely disposed of and their valuable materials reused for new products. By understanding the different ways to dispose of monitors and other electronics, consumers and businesses can make a positive impact on the community and the environment when they upgrade their computer equipment.

Recycle Computer Monitors