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How to recycle scrap electronics for cash in 2022

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If you have old electronics sitting around your home, you can recycle them for cash.

Precious metals like gold and silver are used in phones, computers, keyboards and other devices, which means you can get back some money recycling parts and cut down on environmental waste.

However, it's important to note that unless you have a large number of old electronics — for instance, if you own a company and want to upgrade all of your office computers — you won't make a lot of money selling electronics for scrap.

For reference, this is the average amount of gold found in common electronic devices and how much it's worth based on current gold prices, though most electronic scrap buyers won't pay you the full value of your gold if they have to extract it from an assembled device:

  • Older cellphones – 0.034 grams, about $2
  • Desktop computers – 0.2 grams, about $12
  • Laptop computers – 0.1 grams, about $6

If you have a lot of electronic scrap at home or in your business taking up space, keep reading to learn how to cash out:

What is electronic scrap?

Electronic scrap, or e-scrap, describes the valuable parts of electronics after you can no longer use them. Whether you are upgrading a laptop or smartphone, or if you have electronics that no longer work, there is still value in the parts.

These are some common electronics people may be able to recycle: 

  • Cell phones
  • Smart phones
  • Desktop computers
  • Laptop computers
  • Computer monitors
  • Tablets
  • Circuit boards
  • Hard drives (internal and external)
  • RAM Memory (IC chips, processors)
  • Printers
  • Scanners
  • Fax machines
  • Copiers
  • Keyboards
  • Mice
  • Docking stations

Of course, you’ll want to scrap your items responsibly, and that also means ensuring your personal data is protected. That’s why it’s so important to choose an electronics scrap business that offers secure data removal from the electronic devices you wish to scrap.

Electronic scrap prices:

Electronic scrap prices fluctuate because of the ever-changing price of the metals inside. 

Some parts of your old devices could be made of scrap metals like: 

As of , the spot gold value in the United States was trading at $ per ounce, or $ per gram. 

As of , the silver resale value in the United States was at $ per ounce, or $ per gram.

For perspective, you would need about 40 phones to recover one gram of gold. 

Some electronics contain more gold than others. Motherboards, circuit boards, and processors are often loaded with gold parts, for example. 

Where to find a “scrap yard near me” to sell scrap metal in 2022

Precious metals in electronics: List of 8 items you could recover for gold and more

These are some electronics where you can find gold and other precious metals to recycle:

Gold in cell phones

You can find gold plating throughout old cell phones and smartphones — especially expensive models. Gold is often used because it doesn’t corrode and conducts electricity well. 

While some parts are plated in gold, others are made of gold. This will vary depending on your phone, but in general you can find gold in or on:

  • Connectors
  • Wiring
  • Circuit boards
  • Chips 
  • SIM cards

According to the U.S. Geological Survey, older cell phones contain about 0.034 grams of gold (though the amount will vary slightly by phone model – newer models contain less gold). 

Gold in computers: What computer parts have gold?

Computers are an excellent source of gold because they are larger than cell phones. That means the parts are heavier. The higher the weight in gold, the more money you can make.

You can find gold in:

  • Circuit boards
  • Motherboards
  • Hard drives

The older the device, the more gold it likely contains. That’s because older electronics like VCRs, camcorders, and scanners tend to have larger components.

Start by going through your home to look for unused electronics, and ask family and friends if they have electronics they no longer use or want.

You can also join groups like Freecycle or post an ad on Craigslist or Nextdoor requesting old electronics. 

Electronic scrap yards also have junk computers that you can take parts from, free of charge. Be sure to look for old servers and mainframes from businesses, as they contain multiple hard drives, circuit boards, and motherboards.

Here's a video on scrapping a computer tower:

Gold in computer circuit boards

Circuit boards provide a lot of small, intricate gold parts. These pieces of gold are often woven throughout the boards. Dell Technologies reports you can likely get 5 troy ounces of gold per ton (2,000 pounds) of P.C. circuit boards.

Gold in computer motherboards

Motherboards — a circuit board that contains the principal components of a computer or other device — offer a lot of gold parts, such as connectors, ports, pins, and sockets. Since motherboards are larger than other circuit boards, you can typically get more gold from them.

Gold in computer hard drives

Old hard drives are full of metals such as gold, silver, copper, aluminum, and palladium. They contain many parts that professionals can extract. Connector pins and other contacts usually have gold plating, as do circuit boards in hard drives.

Palladium in computers

There are very small amounts of palladium in computer parts. You’ll usually find it in hard drives and circuit boards.

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How to extract gold and more from electronics

The gold parts in old cell phones, smartphones, and computers are often very small and require professional help for extraction. That’s because gold extraction typically involves extreme heat and chemicals like nitric acid. Check out this video from BBC Earth Lab that shows the extensive process: 

CashforElectronicScrapUSA.com (CFES), has the resources to handle recovering other precious metals like silver or copper, though CFES works exclusively with business clients and schools.

If you are a business or school that has a large volume of scrap electronics, you can arrange for a free pickup by CFES in the New England or tri-state area including: Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont. 

Or, you can ship your electronics to CFES for free via FedEx or arrange for free freight shipping to the corporate office in Canton, Mass., by filling out the request form on CashforElectronicScrapUSA.com. You can usually expect to receive a check within 10 business days of receipt and appraisal.

CFES also helps individuals recycle scrap electronics.

If you only have a few items to scrap, contact CJ Environmental for a prepaid, insured mailing label. You can call or fill out the online quote request form. Once they receive your e-scrap and appraise its value, they can mail you a check or deposit funds via PayPal as fast as 24 hours.

In addition to electronic scrap, if you have gold and silver jewelry you no longer want, you can trade it in for cash at CashforGoldUSA.com or CashforSilverUSA.com, our top choices for selling gold, silver, and other precious metals online. This is why: 

  • A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau
  • 24-hour payouts
  • 10% bonus if shipped within 7 days
  • Price match and free return guarantee
  • Insured up to $100,000 by Lloyds of London while held (plus up to $5,000 through Jewelers Mutual Insurance while in transit)

Get a free estimate today from CashforGoldUSA >>

How to scrap circuit boards for gold and silver

The largest amount of gold on a circuit board is on clean gold fingers. They are narrow, shiny connectors that run along the edges of circuit boards.

To scrap a circuit board for gold and silver:

  1. Unscrew your laptop or computer (make sure it’s unplugged from any electrical outlets). You can Google “how to open your laptop” and add the brand and model for specific instructions. For example, “how to open your Dell Inspiron 15 laptop.” 
  2. Locate the circuit board you wish to remove. You’ll need a small screwdriver made for electronics, which can be found in any hardware store.
  3. Remove the screws holding it in place.
  4. Detach any connections.
  5. Take the circuit board out of the computer.

How to scrap motherboards for gold

To scrap a motherboard, you also have to remove it from its device:

  1. Unplug and open the laptop or desktop computer, following Google instructions for your specific model.
  2. Locate the motherboard. The motherboard is a very large circuit board. You can search Google for “how to remove a motherboard” for help. 
  3. Using the proper-sized screwdriver, remove the screws that connect the motherboard to the computer.
  4. Disconnect any attachments like cables and wires that feed the motherboard.
  5. Take the motherboard out of the computer.

You can also go to the manufacturer’s website to download a product manual or contact their customer service department by phone or email if you need more help.

How to scrap a hard drive

A hard drive’s scrap value can vary, depending on whether you have the included circuit board or not. 

To remove the hard drive:

  1. Open the desktop or laptop computer. 
  2. Locate the hard drive. Hard drives look like a large rectangular box, and are often encased in metal.
  3. Detach any connectors.
  4. Remove any screws holding it in place.
  5. Pull the hard drive out of the computer.

Where to recycle e-waste and old computers for cash

You can recycle your old devices by mail or in-person at an electronic scrap yard — search ​​”electronic scrap yard near me” — or through a reputable online scrap electronic buyer like CJ Environmental.

Since electronic equipment does not break down in landfills, recycling e-waste and old computers for cash is a smart way to reduce waste, remove clutter from your home, and earn money.

CashforElectronicsUSA.com

CashforElectronicsUSA.com (CFES USA) is a reputable option for businesses and schools to recycle old electronics. It’s run by CJ Environmental, which boasts an A+ Better Business Bureau rating. 

CashforElectronics offers top-dollar for electronics scrap. They also provide proof of data removal and secure destruction upon request.

CJ Environmental helps businesses and individuals recycle e-waste, old computers, cell phones, and other electronics for cash.

Electronic scrap yards “near me”

If you want to work with a local business to recycle your electronic scrap, search Google for “electronic scrap yards near me” to see a list of local electronic scrap yards. 

You can contact the scrap yards to find out if they pay for scrap, as some actually require a fee to scrap certain items, much like companies that help you get rid of junk.

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FAQs about scrapping electronics like a computer for cash

Are electronics worth scrapping?

That depends on how many unused electronics you have and whether you have the knowledge/ability to extract the valuable parts within them. If you have a single cellphone, for example, you may only get about $2 for its scrap content.

Electronic scrap buyers will pay you more for individual parts like hard drives or the gold fingers they contain than unassembled electronic devices because of the work it takes to extract their metal content.

If you are looking to make real money scrapping electronics, you’d have to scrap items in bulk. If not, e-scrap can be an occasional way to make a few extra dollars.

How can I get money for old electronics?

Work with a reputable business like CJ Environmental to recycle your old electronics for cash. Once your item is received and appraised, you can expect a payout in as little as 24 hours via paper check or PayPal.

Which electronics contain the most gold?

Older, large electronics have the most gold inside of them. Think Betamax, large VCRs, and outdated, bulky desktop systems or network computers with multiple hard drives.

How much is a scrap laptop worth?

What a scrap laptop is worth depends on what shape it’s in. According to Boardsort.com, a non-working laptop with a good screen (no cracks) can go for as much as $1.35 per pound. Laptops can weigh between 2-8 pounds. If the laptop screen is broken, you can get $0.80 per pound.

How much do circuit boards scrap for?

Circuit boards come in all sizes and functions, from laptop motherboards to small cellphone boards. If you are able to extract and clean parts like gold fingers, you could get as much as $40 per pound according to Boardsort.com. You can expect anywhere from $0.20 to $13 per pound for most circuit boards.

What is electronic scrap?

Electronic scrap, or e-scrap, describes the valuable parts of electronics after you can no longer use them. Whether you are upgrading a laptop or smartphone, or if you have electronics that no longer work, there is still value in the parts.

What computer parts have gold?

You can find gold in: circuit boards, motherboards, and hard drives.

Are electronics worth scrapping?

If you need a few extra dollars and have in-demand parts like gold fingers, a gold-fingered RAM, or certain gold cap computer chips, yes it is worth it. With those kinds of parts, you can make anywhere from $40 to $175.

Which electronics contain the most gold?

Older, large electronics have the most gold inside of them. Think Betamax, large VCRs, and outdated, bulky desktop systems or network computers with multiple hard drives.

How much is a scrap laptop worth?

It depends on what shape it’s in. According to Boardsort.com, a non-working laptop with a good screen (no cracks) can go for as much as $1.35 per pound. Laptops can weigh between 2-8 pounds. If the laptop screen is broken, you can get $0.80 per pound.

How much do circuit boards scrap for?

Circuit boards come in all sizes and functions, from laptop motherboards to small cell phone boards. Some have high-end parts like gold fingers that will get you as much as $40 per pound according to Boardsort.com. You can expect anywhere from $0.20 to $13 per pound for most circuit boards.

Robyn Evans is an award-winning writer, inspirational author, and occasional songstress (especially in the shower). Born and raised in Baltimore, she focused on helping women make healthy choices for body, mind and soul. She’s a grateful bonus mom to a photographer son and activist daughter and works with young writers through a nonprofit called the Youth Writers Challenge. Robyn writes for corporate clients, is a former feature writer for The Carroll County Times, has written for The Baltimore Sun and is the author of three books.
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