How to Dispose of an Old Keyboard

On a white background broken old keyboard from a laptop.

If you’ve got an old keyboard lying around that just doesn’t function for you anymore, or you’re getting a new upgrade, you may be wondering what to do with the old one. While it might seem easy to simply throw the old keyboard away, there are much better options available to you.

To properly dispose of a keyboard, consider taking it to a recycling center or electronic organization, upcycling it to have a new purpose, or donating it. Throwing a keyboard in the trash can be harmful to the environment and even illegal in some states since it is considered electronic waste.

What you decide to do with your keyboard will probably depend on the options and resources available near you. Regardless of your lifestyle or preferences, there is always a more sustainable course of action than simply throwing it away.

Can I Throw My Old Keyboard In The Trash?

You cannot throw an old keyboard away or leave it by the dumpster to be collected alongside other waste. Throwing away a keyboard is bad for the environment because the materials do not break down easily. In fact, in some states, it’s illegal send an old keyboard to the regular landfill because the materials are considered e-waste, meaning that the keyboard will release toxic chemicals into the soil as it slowly continues to break and weather down.

Keyboards are made of plastic and are coated in brominated flame retardant. This is a nice feature in electronic equipment because it prevents the item from getting damaged by excessive heat and occasionally even small house fires; however, the flame retardant also makes it difficult to melt the material down for disposal or reuse.

Plastic, especially if it’s coated in flame retardant, should never go into a landfill or an incinerator because it will release toxic chemicals. Keyboards sitting in landfills will slowly leak carcinogens like dioxin into the soil, contaminating the local water supply. Similarly, as products with flame retardant are incinerated, the coating can slowly ooze off the keyboard and get mixed with soil and rainwater.

In other words, throwing away the used keyboard is not only wasteful, it’s dangerous. There are also parts to the keyboard that be reused most of the time, so it’s a much better idea to give it to someone in need or to an electronic refurbishing store that is eager to repurpose the pieces.

How To Recycle A Keyboard

Recycling concept. Green key button with recycle sign on a computer keyboard, banner. 3d illustration

Find a Recycling Center Near You

Any recycling center located in your area is a great place to take your keyboard. They can either take it from you and handle it, or they can direct you to a place that will. Basically, any place that accepts computers to be recycled will also accept keyboards and other desktop accessories.

More specifically, local electronic waste (e-waste) recycling programs will be your best bet. In states that have passed e-waste recycling laws, programs are easy to find online or through local services. A quick search on your city’s website will help you determine whether such laws have been passed in your state, as well as where to find recycling locations.

Take the Keyboard to a Retailer

Some retailers have drop boxes for used electronic equipment. They either recycle the items through affiliated companies, or repurpose them and reuse their parts. You’ll have to look up where these places are near you, but common examples are Staples and Best Buy.

Best Buy is fairly prevalent in most towns and cities. It’s also the largest retail collector of e-waste. The process is very simple; you drop off your keyboard at a participating Best Buy store and they take care of the rest. In fact, sometimes Best Buy will even give you a gift card if the keyboard still has any monetary value. Once that’s done, Best Buy ships batches of donated electronic equipment to Regency Technologies or Electronic Recyclers International, where professionals will work to break down the material and repurpose it.

Recycled and repurposed electronic materials can be used to manufacture new products. You might be amazed at the scope of what these industries can do with the materials; for instance, sometimes fiber-optics cables can even be used in airplanes.

Aside from the big retailers, you can reach out to local ones because some of them might take keyboards. Options vary from state to state, but generally each county has some kind of program to recycle electronics. If you go on the website of your municipal solid waste agency or call them, they can let you know how to recycle your keyboard.

Donating Your Keyboard: Thrift stores, Charities, or Organizations

Old hard disk dive and motherboards and used keyboard with mouse old computer hardware accessories in paper boxes, Obsolete equipment is electronic waste Reuse and Recycle concept.

If your keyboard is still functional and in decent shape, consider donating it to someone in need. Donations allow people to have access to electronic equipment for work, schoolwork, or in-home use without having to spend a fortune on new products. You can donate the keyboard to a thrift store, charity organization, or directly to someone you know.

Donating to a Thrift Store

This is very simple and easy, and probably the least time-consuming depending on where you live. Any thrift store will take your keyboard and you can drop it off very quickly. This is also going to enable someone to purchase a keyboard for a price that’s more affordable and attainable for them.

Donating to Charities or Organizations

With a simple google search, you can find different charities or organizations that would love to have your keyboard. Places like these usually take computer equipment donations for different purposes, such as providing the computers for kids in the United States or abroad to learn career-related life skills.

An example of a charity is the World Computer Exchange (WCE). This organization has chapters of local volunteers who collect computer donations within their home town or city. WCE then refurbishes the computers and electronic accessories, sets them up with educational software, and then donates them to local Youth Skills and Girls Clubs. Dead, unusable equipment gets recycled.

Turn The Keys Into A Craft

control button of computer keyboard isolated on white background

If you’re feeling crafty and want to create something fun out of the keyboard pieces, here are a couple of different ideas:

  • Keyboard Rings: One of the most popular ways to upcycle your keyboard for a new purpose is to create rings out of the keys. This is also one of the easiest crafts and not very time-consuming at all. Remove whatever keys you want for a ring, and simply glue the key to a ring of choice.
  • Keyboard Art: There are multiple approaches to take when it comes to keyboard art. You can make a picture frame, corkboard tacks, textured word art on a canvas, or even creative messages for loved ones.
  • Keychain: Making a keychain is as simple or complicated as you make it. Carefully puncture a hole through each of the desired keys, then thread and secure them with a small string that’s tied securely to the key. Connect it to a keychain ring, and you’ve got a personalized conversation starter!

Overall, ways to recycle, repurpose, or make crafts out of your old keyboard are as plentiful as they are easy. Pick whatever sounds fun and doable to you, then follow through with it. Proper waste disposal doesn’t have to be a hassle; the key to success is simply taking action.

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