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Recycle Your Computer – Our Only Option

May 26th, 2008 · 3 Comments

This article explains how to recycle computer and other electronic wastes. Just follow the following steps.

Computers and other electronic gadgets play a vital role in almost every American’s life in the 21st century. Seemingly, every part of our lives is inextricably connected to an electronic device. We are enamored with these electronic products completely and the trend is only expected to continue and grow. To recycle computer and other electronic devices now emerges as the only viable option for us. Without recycling electronics, we will, foreseeably, be overwhelmed by this ever-growing stockpile of what is now known as e-waste.

The US Environmental Protection Agency has reported a less-than-stellar recycling rate for electronic waste of less than 20% in the past. In 2005, for example, EPA reported that:

…used or unwanted electronics amounted to approximately 1.9 to 2.2 million tons. Of that, about 1.5 to 1.9 million tons were primarily discarded in landfills, and only 345,000 to 379,000 tons were recycled.

Recycle Our Computer Hardware or Drink Poison

According to The Encyclopedia of Earth, each computer contains metals like aluminum, antimony, arsenic, barium, beryllium, cadmium, chromium, cobalt, copper, gallium, gold, iron, lead, manganese, mercury, palladium, platinum, selenium, silver, and zinc. Eight of these metals (shown in italics) are listed as hazardous by the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) and are the most toxic substances known.

Lead, for example, is known to “cause irreversible neurological damage as well as renal disease, cardiovascular effects, and reproductive toxicity.” A single computer contains an average of 5-7 lbs. of lead! Computers that end up in our landfills inevitably leak these frightening toxic substances into our underground water systems. Recycling means keeping e-waste and these harmful chemicals and heavy metals away from our landfills and our water systems.

The remaining precious metals – gold, silver, platinum, copper, etc. are fully recovered when a computer is recycled. It is said that 1 metric ton of e-waste from personal computers contain more gold than 17 tons of gold ore. Recycling our e-waste, clearly creates a major impact on our economy – it conserves resources, it creates wealth from scraps that would otherwise have been useless to us if they were dumped in landfills. In the end of the recycling process, as noted in the New York Times’ authoritative article, “The Afterlife of Cell Phones,” due to advances in recycling technology today, less than half of one percent of the e-waste “cannot be safely sent back into the world in a usable form.” The remaining 99.5 percent of recovered precious metals, plastic, and glass are again used to manufacture new products.

How To Recycle Your Computer

There are a number of ways to recycle our computer or at least extend its useability. Here are some options available for us:

  • Donate computer to a worthy cause, a school, or a charity. This is one way of extending the computer’s life cycle and you’re certain that your computer will be put to good use in educating young minds, or helping those hit by natural calamities, whatever. Now,.. I don’t want you to focus on this, it’s a joy to give without expecting anything in return, but, someone said something about the only two things that are certain in life. Yes, if the receiving school or charity qualifies, you can ask for a receipt from them and have the assessed value of the hardware deducted from your tax payments.
  • Post in a Free Recycle forum. Some posts ago, I wrote about free recycling  as recycling initiative at its best. It’s really quite simple to join. Log in to a free recycling network like Earth911, Freecycle, and DontDumpThat. Find the group that caters to people from your specific location, join up, and start posting. Include the specs of your PC in your forum post and wait for responses. You get to choose who’s best qualified to inherit your old hardware, and within a few hours, it’s out of your hands to someone else’s who needs it and will definitely use it.
  • Recycle with FreeGeek or any other non-profit recycler or refurbishers. FreeGeek and similar groups recycle or refurbish your old computer and then give it someone who needs it in exchange for community service (recycling computers).
  • Return your computer to manufacturers for recycling. This is perhaps the best option for many of us. The big companies, like Apple, Dell, IBM, etc all have computer take-back or recycling programs. They work with reputable recyclers, ensuring that the products are recycled in a responsible and efficient manner. Some companies do charge a small fee for recycling hardware that they didn’t manufacture to cover shipping. Most provide coupons or some other incentive to recycle and save on your next hardware purchase. For more information on computer and electronics recycling programs of the different manufacturers, please visit Recycle Your Computer on Squidoo.

One last thing, don’t forget to clean your hard disk before sending your hardware for recycling. The danger of hacking and identity theft is always present. The best step is to clean the hard disk yourself using disk-cleaning software that will delete your information and overwrite the disk several times to ensure that none of your data can be recovered. If for some reason, you’re unable to do this, you can inquire from your recycler (if it’s a local company) about their policy about recoverable data. Some may charge a small fee to process the disk clean-up while others routinely do it without any additional charges.

Recycle your computer. In the context of dangerous chemicals contaminating our water systems and the environment, and the scarcity of resources, recycling e-waste is not just our best option, it’s our only logical option.

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Tags: Computer Recycling

3 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Marina // Jun 2, 2008 at 7:12 pm

    My client in China who sell the bathroom vanities suddenly ask me where to buy recycle monitors in America , he said that he going to ship them to China and use them.

  • 2 Computer Recycling - Don’t Be A Victim | Pacebutler Blog // Aug 5, 2008 at 4:11 am

    […] Recycle Your Computer – Our Only Option – To recycle computer and other electronic devices now emerges as the only viable option for us. Without recycling

  • 3 Dave // Nov 9, 2008 at 4:04 pm

    In some cities, such as ours (Boulder, Colorado) there are hard to recycle places that often times will take computers. I took several really old computers and computer parts by this place a few months ago, and although you have to pay a small fee to have them recycle a computer (which was worth it), they will take them and help you have a clean garage or home, and a clean conscience.

    I asked them how they recycle the computers and their answer was really fascinating. They said that they basically send them to another city where they “grind” them into bits and pieces, and from there the “grinds” can be made into other things.

    I wish every city had a program like this. It was nice to see my old computer stuff get a new life.