Old computer hard drives can be stripped down, and their gold, silver and copper guts redeemed for cash.
But consumer electronics often contain lead, mercury and other hazardous materials, and disposing of them can cost more than what is recouped in precious metals.
Besides, recycling electronics isn't just about the money, "it's about doing the right thing for resources that are not renewable," says Beaufort County recycling coordinator Carol Murphy.
The county's Division of Solid Waste and Recycling will collect electronics for recycling at no cost to residents at two sites Saturday. It is the fourth collection the county has arranged since it became illegal in June to dispose of such materials in a landfill.
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The county also will accept personal documents for shredding.
The county is piggybacking off a state contract with Recycling Services and pays only for the wages of about 20 county employees who work that day.
The county gets 50 cents for each hard drive, Murphy said, which usually amounts to a total of $200. It receives no money for other electronics but will accept cellphones, monitors, televisions, calculators and many other devices. About 200,000 pounds of electronics were collected at the last drive in the fall.
Those who miss Saturday's collection still have places to legally unload unwanted electronics. Stores like Best Buy and Radio Shack will buy items such as newer laptops and recycle other electronics for free. They don't accept everything, however, according to their websites.
Low Country Metals in Hardeeville also will pay residents and businesses for electronics -- the amount depends on the type of metal and market prices, according to the company's director of business development, Michelle Smith. Motherboards, for example, typically fetch customers $3.50 to $4.50 a pound, and electronic meters are 35 cents to 65 cents per pound, she said.
"If you bring in a whole computer, we would not give you the same price as if you broke it down yourself and brought it in because then there's manpower involved," she said.
However, Low Country Metals cannot process items with lead, like some TVs. Through a partnership with another company, it can accept some items with mercury.
Follow reporter Erin Moody at twitter.com/EyeOnBeaufort.