The Environmental And Economic Imperative For Recycling Computers

What a difference two decades can make! It was less than twenty years ago that computers were sometimes a luxury and sometimes a novelty. Schools often had one computer per classroom, and sometimes a few more in the library. The internet was new, and not everyone had an email address. Today, computers are an integral part of daily life, and the necessity of recycling computers is a real issue that must be faced.

Should Computers Be Recycled?

Computers are an excellent candidate for recycling. Available in large volumes and with an ever-increasing supply, computers contain an unusual mix of valuable, non-renewable resources like copper, zinc, nickel, and tin, and hazardous, toxic materials like lead, arsenic, and mercury.

But more so, computer recycling is imperative given the growing problem of unwanted computers and accessories. With computer prices decreasing and new technology swiftly making otherwise near-new computers obsolete, the growing pile of unwanted computers must be addressed on a worldwide scale.

The United Nations previously predicted that by 2017, 65.4 million tonnes of computer waste would be generated around the globe every year. That figure can only continue to increase, and it will take experts in computer recycling and more top recycling programs to find ways to solve the problem.

Computer Parts Recycling Image - AGR

Disposing of Hazardous Materials Responsibly by Recycling Computers

Older computers contain a host of dangerous, hazardous materials. Left to their own devices, these toxic substances are likely to leak into water and the soil, contaminating the earth and throwing the food chain in harm’s way.

Toxic substances found in computers can include:

  • Lead, with 4-8 pounds of lead found in older-style cathode ray tube computer monitors
  • Mercury, found in some LCD monitors
  • Cadmium, found in batteries and known to cause cancer
  • Beryllium, found in motherboards and known to cause lung disorders
  • Chromium, known to cause damage to the kidney and liver
  • Arsenic, a known carcinogen
  • Antimony, known to cause gastrointestinal problems
  • PVC, used in connectors and casings
  • Brominated Flame Retardants, used in plastic casings, cables, and circuit boards.

To prevent these toxic substances from leaking into the world’s water supply and causing untold damage to humans and the environment, a concerted effort to encourage recycling computers must be made.

The EPA has previously estimated the effect of recycling computers, stating that for every one million computers recycled, the energy equivalent of the electricity usage of 3,500 home for one year is saved.

Refurbishment and Reuse

Just because a computer has been discarded does not mean that it is irreparably broken. In many instances, the computer may have been replaced by a newer model, or only one element of it may be not in working condition.

Computers that are in good working order can potentially be refurbished and made available to community organizations and low-income individuals and families.

All Green Recycling believes in doing good wherever we can, which is why we are keen to refurbish and repackage when recycling computers wherever possible.

Our refurbishment and reuse program consists of the following steps:

  1. Your unwanted computer is tested and assessed for suitability;
  2. Your data is destroyed, typically by shredding the hard drive;
  3. Your computer is refurbished and any broken or missing parts are replaced;
  4. The refurbished computer is tested and cleaned;
  5. The computer is remarketed into the community, being made available to those who need it most.

A full audit trail is always made available, with an asset management register provided to show the computer items we have recycled. A Certificate of Destruction is also provided to prove that your confidential information has been completely destroyed by certified electronics recycling.

At All Green Recycling, we believe in the environmental and sociological benefits of recycling computers, and of giving back to the community wherever possible. Above all, we believe in the importance of protecting personal, confidential, or otherwise sensitive data from falling into the wrong hands. To find out how All Green Recycling can assist with your computer waste, contact us today.

References

Where computers go to die

‘Micro factories will enable decentralised manufacturing’

Eco Talk: Why e-waste should be recycled

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