recycling computers

How to Recycle Your Computer with a Clean Conscience

Not all recyclers keep the toxic chemicals and heavy metals in your old computer from endangering people's health.

By Emily Main


How to Recycle Your Computer with a Clean Conscience

Some due diligence will ensure that your recycled computer doesn't end up in the wrong place.

RODALE NEWS, EMMAUS, PA—Technology becomes obsolete at a startlingly rapid pace. The iPhone released just last June is already being replaced with a newer, better model, and chances are the laptop you bought three years ago is already a "dinosaur" that runs too slowly to keep up with your newfound addiction to YouTube and

Also rising rapidly are the piles of computers, televisions, cellphones, and other electronic waste, or "e-waste," that wind up in junkyards, landfills, and at secondhand stores that can't resell them. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that the amount of e-waste created in the U.S. is growing at two to three times the rate of other forms of trash. Unfortunately, just 15 to 20 percent of that e-waste is recycled; the remaining 80 to 85 percent meets a far more unpleasant fate, with nasty repercussions for the environment.

THE DETAILS: E-waste isn't like traditional garbage. Electronics contain heavy metals and toxic chemicals, such as lead, mercury, cadmium, and brominated flame retardants (these have been linked to thyroid problems and learning disabilities). All these chemicals can travel from landfills into groundwater or, if the waste is incinerated, be released as toxic air pollutants.

If your plan is to keep your computer out of landfills or incinerators by sending it to a dedicated computer recycler, unfortunately, there's a good chance that the computer won’t be taken apart by a company in the U.S. that will reuse parts in new or refurbished models, says Sheila Davis, executive director of the Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition. "There are no standards at all for e-waste recyclers," she says. "Anybody can say they're a recycler and just send your stuff to a landfill or an incinerator."

But more often than not, she says, recyclers ship e-waste overseas to developing countries. Using no protective measures whatsoever, workers there then dismantle them for valuable copper wiring or other components they can sell for money. Children often do the salvaging, and in the process are exposed to metals and chemicals that can cause severe brain damage or developmental problems.

Published on: June 10, 2010
Updated on: June 11, 2010

I just finished reading about

I just finished reading about the Iphone 5. This phone is #5 on your BEST phones list. Why ?

I was looking for something

I was looking for something like AppLogic which enables cloud computing for running and scaling web applications when I found this article that capture my attention. I never had to throw away anything because it wasn't to old and I could sell it, but I wondered what happens with computers and cellphone that can't be repaired. There is not even one company that recycle electronics?

As long as you have a backup

As long as you have a backup for for the security software installed on your computer there shouldn't be any problems related to recycling your computer. People just need to understand that in the 21st century, a century of technology, we need to recycle electronics efficiently.

As the technology is

As the technology is constantly emerging more and more fascinating the recycling matter becomes a bigger problem. I this it's vital to educate people how to dispose used computers and gadgets, throwing them to the dumpster is not exactly the best solution. We got a set of instructions about that from our junk removal Worcester MA service and it really worked, people responded well to that.

Here's how to do electronics recycling right!

NextStep Recycling

A business-savvy non-profit in Eugene, Oregon, that not only recycles ALL electronics (if it plugs in or runs on batteries they take it), they rebuild, refurbish, re-sell (in their thrift stores), and give technology gifts to those in need through social services agencies.

Plus, they provide vocational assistance and training to people with disabilities, seniors, and volunteers, along with a growing paid staff of 20 or more. Truly a model of how run a waste-based business. Spread the word.


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