In some states, you can, but you really shouldn’t. There are dozens of harmful chemicals inside of a laptop or desktop computer and even cell phones. These products are then dumped in landfills where those chemicals can easily get into storm drains and ground water along with being released into the air we breathe.
In California for example, they have a laundry list of electronics that are banned from landfills including: computers (laptop, desktop), televisions (CRT, LCD, plasma), printers, VCR’s, cell phones, telephones, radios, and much more. Also, in California, the state is now charging a tax when purchasing IT equipment to entice proper recycling which amounts to 3%. This tax is meant to recoup costs of collection and reimburse recycling centers who offer free electronic recycling to businesses and consumers.
In Washington state, a massive push has been underway since 2006 to increase awareness for electronic recycling for businesses and consumers. Called E-Cycle Washington, the program allows for businesses of less than 50 employees and consumers to recycle electronics at no cost. One collection point was required in each county along with another collection point in any city with a population of more than 10,000 residents which equates to over 300 collection sites at this time. (Source: http://www.nbcnews.com/id/28390798/ns/technology_and_science-tech_and_gadgets/t/washington-state-starts-free-pc-tv-recycling/#.XMCuSuhKjIU)
What items can you recycle in Washington for FREE? The list includes computers (laptop & desktop), e-readers, monitors, portable DVD players, tablets, and televisions. Computer peripherals aka accessories include cell phones, keyboards, mice, printers, and toner cartridges. So far since the inception of the program, more than 393,700,000 pounds of electronics have been recycled. (Source: https://ecology.wa.gov/Waste-Toxics/Reducing-recycling-waste/Electronics)
In 2011, North Carolina passed legislation banning computer peripherals, desktops, laptops, mice, monitors, printers, scanners, and televisions from landfills. In 2005, roughly 1,700 tons of electronics were recycled which increased to over 4,500 tons by 2009 due to the states large electronics recycling campaign. In the US, less than half of our states have laws on the books for electronic recycling.
One solution that SMR is taking an initiative on, is to work closely with North Carolina municipalities to increase awareness with consumers on the environmental benefits for electronics recycling. It all starts with the proper education and how we can all work together to create a more sustainable future for our planet and remove harmful waste from landfills.