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Scrapping miscellaneous pc parts

Posted on 2015-02-17
Medium Priority
Last Modified: 2016-07-19
I'm looking to see if anyone has any suggestions or if you've had any personal experience with scrap for all the various pc components you've accumulated over the years.

I must have dozens of cases, hard drives, floppy drives, cd-roms, dvd drives, countless sticks of RAM, cases, monitors, motherboards and all kinds of additional parts and boards that have accumulated a considerable amount of space around here.  Dead or incredibly old laptops and even some antiquated peripherals that are also just collecting dust.

Is there any money to be made at all on any of this with scrap.  I've seen countless websites that offer to send boxes for me to pack everything up and ship it to them but then I find an equally countless sites that say they are a bunch of scams and if I'm lucky I'll receive a check for $10!

Any help in sorting out what's real and what's fiction when it comes to this stuff would be greatly appreciated and generously rewarded (with points) :-) should it help me to finally reclaim this space!  Thanks!
Question by:bullseye17
LVL 50

Accepted Solution

dbrunton earned 264 total points
ID: 40615959
>>  Is there any money to be made at all on any of this with scrap.

It really depends on what it is.  

Generic type cases aren't worth anything.  Genuine PC XT cases can have value.
RAM sticks can be worth nothing or have value.  For example 128 Mb DDR versus 512 Mb DDR.  Everyone probably has the former but would desire the latter.
Floppy drives are the same.  1.44 Mb would have more value than 720 Kb and 1.2 Mb more preferable than 360 Kb.
Hard disks.  I don't know who want MFM or RLL disks or even early SCSI disks.  Cables and connectors may have value.

Anyway enuff from me.  Let others comment.
LVL 93

Assisted Solution

nobus earned 248 total points
ID: 40615980
first - you need to have an inventory list
then you can classify, and look for the value
there may some things with some money in it - but i doubt it, unless you can UPGRADE a couple of systems with your parts
the only other option is finding someone who is looking for a specific part, and wants to pay for it
LVL 97

Assisted Solution

by:Lee W, MVP
Lee W, MVP earned 248 total points
ID: 40615997
If you want top dollar, it's not worth it.  If you just want to get rid of it and maybe pick up lunch money, take it to a metals recycler.  they pay by the pound, usually at a rate of 10 to 20 cents per pound.
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LVL 70

Assisted Solution

by:Gary Case
Gary Case earned 248 total points
ID: 40616086
Quite frankly, most of these aren't worth the bother to sell.   As noted above, if you make a list, you can then go to e-bay and look a "completed listings" to see what the range of value is and decide whether or not you want to bother listing them.    In my view very little is worth the bother of listing; packing; shipping; etc. for very little return.

I clean out my "junk collection" about once/year by taking any functioning computers to Goodwill and simply tossing everything else in the garbage on one of our periodic "bulk collection" trash days (when they'll take just about anything except toxic chemicals).

Of what you listed, about the only things that MAY have some value are RAM sticks (if large enough and new enough ... i.e. DDR2 or DDR3 -- although large DDR modules can still bring a few $ on ebay); and monitors IF they're flat-screen (there's virtually no market for CRT displays these days).
LVL 13

Assisted Solution

by:Norm Dickinson
Norm Dickinson earned 248 total points
ID: 40616267
I've had great luck selling scrap components for a reasonable return, as long as I do the scrapping myself and don't hire someone to take everything apart.  Here are some simple steps that anyone can follow to make money on old PC parts, with only the plastic and CRTs really not being worth anything at all.

1. Remove all components down to the frame. Sort into hard drives, floppy drives, CD drives, RAM, CPUs, printed circuit boards (of all types), power supplies, cables, fans, cases, and plastic. You may find a few other categories.
2. Remove as much of the steel as possible from the circuit boards, including screws and hanger brackets.
3. Remove all of the plastic from the cases.
4. Create two metal groups - ferrous and non-ferrous. Use a magnet to determine what goes in each pile.
5. Group the circuit boards into piles that will fit into a reasonable size box and weigh each pile. Take a photo or two and create a good description of what is in the pile, and sell it on eBay as high-quality circuit board scrap. Research the category (see as an example) to get some ideas on pricing. People buy this to refine the precious metals, and pay more than the major recycling firms do. Repeat for the CPUs, RAM, and each group of drives.
6. Discard all of the plastic into the local recycling bins.
7. Bring the metal, power supplies and cables to the local metal scrap yard. The more sorted they are, the more they pay.

Extra money can be made by reducing some of the drives down to their components. Hard drives have relatively valuable platters and rare earth magnets inside, and most floppy drives have a frame that is worth more than steel by the pound. I also like to save any of the screws that are in good shape. They can be useful, or later sold on eBay or as raw steel weight.
LVL 32

Assisted Solution

_ earned 248 total points
ID: 40617431
I basically do as Norm Dickinson does. And make a little pocket change several time a year.   : )

There are several "e-recyclers" in my area, and while some will take the whole computer, I usually do better by stripping them down to their component parts. CRT's and printers are a problem for me. No one want CRT's, and charge if they do. Ditto for printers.

Try Googling for electronics recyclers in your area, and check with them on what they take and how they want it.
LVL 16

Assisted Solution

dhsindy earned 248 total points
ID: 40617457
It all depends on what your time is worth.  Unless you really get into it, it is probably not worth the time and trouble.  If you do get into it the more you can separate metals the higher prices you will get.  Steel isn't worth much (I once got 50 cents for a washing machine).  Plastic donate for recycle.

I have a repair shop near me that will take electronic junk off your hands for free.  My city has a once a month drop-off for old electronics but you have to fill out forms and prove you are a resident.  We have a guy that started an electronics recycling business.  He hires parolees for the business, again free drop-off.  Old crt monitors are especially hard to get rid of - all that heavy leaded glass.
LVL 39

Assisted Solution

BillDL earned 248 total points
ID: 40622733
Judging by your "$10 check" statement, you are US-based.  In the UK it would be "£10 cheque".  I can only speak in general about UK recycling in my area where a large company named Viridor has the contract to manage all the council recycling dumps.  They have separate areas for TVs and computer monitors, fridges and freezers, metal, wood, cardboard, vegetation, builders' waste, batteries, neon bulbs, general bagged waste, etc, but all other domestic small appliances including computer components go into one skip (dumpster).  We already pay for council services through our local taxes, so the dumps are free to the public as long as the waste is not from commercial sources, where companies would have to pay.

There are funded organisations that help to give unemployed people (generally those with mental health issues) some experience with computers.  It is possible that they get some of the computers from the recycling dumps, but I doubt it because they are left uncovered out in the rain.  These people get hands-on experience refurbishing computers, printers, etc, and I believe the end products are sent to 3rd-world countries.

IT companies who (as part of the contract for upgrading customers' equipment) take away the old equipment, sometimes try to refurbish or break it down and sell it on through eBay, or sell it all for buttons to other IT recycling companies to do so, but it is a fairly stagnant market.  I have seen the same computers and components sitting unsold on eBay shops for months and months where the advertising fees must end up being as much as the sale price.

dhsindy has offered the most succinct and valid comment so far:
"It all depends on what your time is worth".

By the time you disassemble a couple of computers, pay for eBay adverts, find suitable anti-static bags, padding, and boxes, and pay postage for these, you will be lucky to break even selling components like DVD-RW, sound and graphics cards, RAM, etc.

The UK laws used to be (long time since I looked) that the minimum weight of ferrous metal, aluminium, copper, etc that a scrap metal dealer could buy off one individual was 110 pounds.  56 pounds of lead could be bought off one person.  Although there are dealers who ignore the laws, and there are general scrap dealers who buy anything and accumulate the different metals until they have achieved the minimum weight, as an individual you are really just looking at pocket money after you have taken off the cost of car fuel to take the stuff to the dealers.  It is hardly worth the time and effort.

Almosdt 3 years ago I undertook a major clear-out of all my hoarded computers and components and took it all to the recycling dump.  I hung onto some parts that were still usable at the time, but in the interim period technology has taken such a leap that they are now useless to me, so I got rid of the rest at the dump two weeks ago.  After my big clear-out I looked up some of the processors to see if they would have had any resale value, and found an American site:
At first I felt like kicking myself when I saw that some of the processors I had thrown out could have been worth upwards of 30 bucks each.

On the face of it I had binned about $400 or $500 worth of stuff, but when I revisit this guy's website I see that he is still trying to sell exactly the same processors as he/she was 2 years ago.

Is a Cyrix 486 33MHz processor really worth $40?
I suppose it depends how urgently somebody needs one to fix a very old DOS computer that is still running some kind of CNC machine.  The long wait for that requirement could make it worthwhile if you are shifting enough other components to justify the web hosting costs, but I wouldn't have been prepared to keep all those ancient processors and keep advertising them for sale "just in case" somebody might need one several years down the line.

I gradually upgraded my P4 computers by buying faster processors when nobody else bid on them at a starting price of 0.99, so with post and packing I may have paid a few bucks each time, but when the motherboards or processors started playing up I just ditched the whole computer minus the hard drive because it wasn't worth my time and effort fixing them any longer.

Unless you have something collectible or very hard to obtain and desirable (components, documentation, etc), I don't think it is worth your time and effort trying to sell components.

Here is a document compiled from 3 Experts-Exchange blog posts I made several years ago about computer recycling before they moved all the blogs and made you submit them for vetting first.  If you have time to read it, you have time to mess around trying to get money from the parts.
LVL 39

Expert Comment

ID: 41719113
Thank you Kyle
LVL 32

Expert Comment

ID: 41719458
Thank you much.     : )

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