Recycling Old Keyboards (and Other Electronics)

Whether you’re getting a new keyboard for your desktop or docking station, or you’re doing away with your keyboard entirely because you’ve switched to a laptop or tablet, you should find ways of ensuring that you dispose of your keyboard properly.

One such method is recycling or upcycling old keyboards. You may have many questions about recycling your e-waste, especially because e-recyclers are not as common as regular recyclers, you know. Read on to get answers to all your questions about repairing, recycling, and reusing old keyboards and other electronics.

What are Keyboards Made of?

Your keyboard may not look like the everyday things in your house made of plastics. This is because the manufacturers coat keyboards with a brominated flame retardant. This coating material helps to keep the keyboard from burning when in contact with a heat source.

The use of bromine is banned in Europe but is still used in the US. Plastics are initially not biodegradable. However, they are even worse when coated with bromine and should not be disposed of in landfills. This is because the flame retardant will be absorbed into the soil over time and contaminate it. You cannot dispose of it by burning it either because it releases dioxins into the air.

This leaves us with the duty of recycling our keyboards. Fortunately, many agencies are working to take electronic plastic off your hands and recycle them.

How to Recycle Computer Keyboards

You might be wondering where to recycle your computer keyboards or who would be interested in doing that. If you live in a state with an e-waste recycling law, you can visit the Electronic Take Back Coalition website and find an e-waste recycling program near you. You could also visit major retailers like Best Buy and Staples.

The traditional recycling agencies around you could also accept e-waste. You should make inquiries from them, and if they don’t, they would very likely be able to point you in the right direction.

What About Reusing a Keyboard?

If there’s nothing wrong with your keyboard, but you just don’t need it anymore, you can find a way to give it out for reuse. Sometimes churches, schools, nonprofits, and charitable organizations run drives for these things and collect electronic equipment for reuse.

There are also organizations whose key focus is to collect electronic equipment such as keyboards, mouses, and computers for reuse. Most of them repair whatever fault there is and donate to children in the United States and abroad to help them access e-learning.

If you’d like to reuse your keyboard yourself because it holds sentimental value, you can google ways to use it as decor. You can even use the keys as jewelry, as some people on Pinterest have done.

Responsible Disposal

What are the ways to dispose of your keyboards responsibly? Here are a few ways to go about it:

Go online to find the nearest recycling center

Even if you don’t know any e-waste recycling center, you can search online for them. Find the one that’s nearest to you or that represents a cause that’s dear to you.

Some centers repair your keyboards and donate them to people who need them. Some recycle them for other uses. You might want to get on their websites, find out what they do with them and decide if that’s what you’d wish your keyboard to be used for.

Donate functioning equipment

You can also just donate functioning equipment. If you have a keyboard that’s lying around, collecting dust but is still functional, you can donate it. Your local Goodwill is a great place to donate such equipment. You could also find out if there’s a World Computer Exchange near you.

Sharing information about a keyboard you’d like to donate on your social media accounts could also help you find someone who may need it.

Sell your Equipment

Want to make a few bucks off your property or want to use the proceeds from selling one keyboard to buy another? Why not? If your keyboard is still functioning, you can sell it on eBay, Craigslist, or a good old garage sale. Or you could put out a word, and someone who needs a keyboard but can’t afford a new one can take it off your hands.

The Dangers of Improper E-Waste Disposal

You must dispose of your e-waste properly. Tying up your computer, laptop, mouse, or keyboard in a garbage bag is already a no go.

Improper e-waste disposal will damage the environment. The brominated flame retardant used to coat your keyboard, mouse, and parts of your computer are very toxic to the environment.

There are other toxins contained in your electronics that are not only harmful to the environment but are also toxic to human health. Electronic waste like barium, mercury, lead, cadmium, and brominated flame retardants can cause brain, heart, liver, or kidney damage.

What To Do With Your E-Waste?

If you don’t know anywhere near you to dispose of your e-waste, the chances are that other people don’t either. You can help ensure that more people dispose of their e-waste correctly by running a recycling drive in your school, church, or community.

Gathering all the waste together and sending it to the nearest waste disposal company will do you and your community a world of good. You also have the responsibility of ensuring that whatever recycler you’re sending your waste to is recycling it properly.

Unfortunately, some of these companies would smash keyboards and frames of electric equipment to access the more valuable components on the inside. Then, they burn everything they term less useful. These companies usually do this in third-world countries.

Do a bit of research to ensure that the agencies you’re donating your e-waste to are using, reusing, or recycling it properly.

Repair vs Donation

You have a keyboard that’s been spoilt for a while. Should you repair it and start using it again, or should you just donate it?

If it’s a mechanical keyboard and it’s broken, use the parts to support another build. If it’s in good shape, gift it to a friend to get into the hobby! If it’s a membrane keyboard and you don’t have any use for it anymore, you can donate as is. It’s likely that the membrane keyboard may not be repaired if it’s a budget keyboard, and may be better off properly recycled.

When you donate functional electrical appliances, you can help someone who is probably on the other side of the world to get access to amenities that are easier for you to get and even build a better life for themselves.

If you can afford to and the model is right, you can also repair it first, then donate it to ensure that it reaches whomever it will finally end up with in good condition.


More than 70% of most electronic gadgets can be recycled. They can be reused into different things or used to make more electronic gadgets.

While recycling your keyboard might look like a small act, when most people take it seriously, it can significantly reduce the damage done to the environment by mining for metals or making new plastic.

When you give your spoilt electronics to a responsible recycler, you can be sure that they will not up in toxic pits or be harmful to humans or our environment.

Final Thoughts

Got a keyboard you want to dispose of? Follow the steps we’ve outlined above! You’ll be ridding your home or office of clutter, but that’s not all. You will also be extending the lifespan of your keyboard and other electronics by doing any of the things listed above.

Table of Contents