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What is “e-waste” recycling?

You’ve heard that by the time you’ve brought your new electronic device home, it’s already outdated? While maybe not as extreme as that, there really is an ever-growing trend shortening the “useful life” of technology, especially in business. The need for ever greater processing power, storage capacity and networking capability puts pressure on businesses to maintain or increase their market share and keep up with competitors. As a result, there is a continual upgrading of technology, to be able to do “better, faster and cheaper”.

But here’s the rub. While businesses may need to keep current on technology improvements the technology they replace is still viable and functional even though it may not be top-of-the-line anymore.

So what to do? There are several options in the relatively newly evolving e-waste recycling marketplace. Generally, as part of a recycling framework, e-waste can be reused, resold or broken down for salvage.

The first option is usually to refurbish the equipment and sell it on the secondary market to businesses without the high-end technology need but who nevertheless have a technology need, such as good computers. These businesses may be start-ups or just lack the budget to buy new but their technology needs are still very real. New or expanding business means jobs and anything that expands job creation, such as e-recycling, needs to be strongly supported.

Another group that benefits from the re-using such electronic equipment is not-for-profits, who chronically suffer from underfunding but nevertheless have similar technology needs as their for-profit counterparts.

For security and privacy purposes, hard drives must be cleaned and scoured in these reused computers so that any existing information on them is eliminated and the original owners of the equipment are not compromised. This is part of the refurbishing process and a good e-waste recycling company should be chosen to ensure these quality information standards are met.

Reusing or re-purposing electronic equipment is not only good for the environment but it can help new businesses gain a foothold in the market and not-for-profits make a difference in peoples’ lives.

While such electronic equipment “recycling” is a useful alternative, sometimes electronic equipment is just too obsolete to be useful at all. In that case, the equipment has only salvage value and is broken down to its raw materials. Much of this secondary scrap is standard commodities such as copper, steel, plastic and even precious metals, though some of these components also contain hazardous materials and chemicals and need special processing.

So before tossing technology into the dump, consider extending its useful life by recycling your e-waste!