Computers, laptops, fax machines, copiers, and televisions
all have the potential to become electronic waste. As new
technology continues to develop, older models of electronics
will need to be managed.
Currently, a majority of outdated electronics are merely
being stored or warehoused.
Responsible management of e-waste involves limiting the
volume of these electronics in landfills, extending the life of
current electronics, and recycling and reusing old models.
useful life of a computer is approximately 3 years and continues
to decline. Only a
small of computers are being recycled, though the production of
computers is rising.
contain valuable natural resources, such as precious metals,
plastic and glass. Discarded electronics means discarded
resources that could be reused.
Conserving these resources also means preventing
additional pollution and wasted energy obtaining virgin
electronic models, especially televisions and monitors, contain
cathode ray tubes (CRTs), batteries, and mercury switches.
These elements contain mercury, lead, and other
types of hazardous materials.
Recycling prevents the emission and exposure of these
be qualified for a tax break if they donate computers to schools
receiving special grants.
at a recycling processor, electronics are weighed in bulk and
then separated into types according to how they will be
Once the parts
are disassembled, each component is evaluated for possible reuse
Parts that are not repairable are sent for separate processing
and recovery into raw material, like glass, plastic, and various
Parts that can
be refurbished may be physically repaired.
Computers may require software installations or memory
upgrades, and other electronic equipment may require small part
recyclables, computers posed a particular challenge for
recyclers, but the numerous parts of a computer provide numerous
options for resale or reuse.
Many hard drives and circuit boards remain intact within
an older model computer and can be resold.
These materials are typically made from a durable type of
polyethylene, which is easy to remove and process.
However, these parts can become easily contaminated and
must be kept clean for resale.
Screws and clips can be magnetically separated from the
computer and sold as scrap.
Monitors are separated from their plastic frames and
metal supports. If
the monitor contains a CRT, it is removed and crushed, safely
containing any hazardous mercury waste.
The glass and metal obtained is cleaned and sold.
Find a school,
organization, or family to whom you can donate your old
the life of the computer avoids waste of any kind.
If donating, ensure that equipment is operational, and
verify any software requirements of the receiving organization.
local recycling center or retailer for special collections,
programs, or incentives for electronics.
when making new electronics purchases. Look for electronics that
are energy efficient, made with recycled content, use minimal
packaging, and can be easily upgraded.