Do you have an old, out-of-date or unused computer sitting in your closet or basement? If you do, then rest assured you are not alone. Over 2 million tons worth of used gadgets, electronics, televisions and computers are tossed out every year. Furthermore, nearly 130 million cellular phones are taken out of service each year.
With the never-ending supply of the next “latest and greatest” electronic item to hit the market, people are constantly replacing their outdated models, and it is doubtful this trend will subside anytime soon, if ever. Because of this, electronics are becoming a prominent waste stream, and a real headache for our environment.
The Benefits of Recycling Electronics
The reasons to reuse or recycle old computers and electronics instead of allowing them to find their way into our landfills are endless.
Conserving Natural Resources: Old electronics often have recoverable valuable materials, and these items can be extracted and used for new product manufacturing. For instance, electronic components and a computer’s circuit board contain precious metals, and computer monitors and televisions can contain plastics and glass. Recycling these materials means the less earth that will need to be mined for new materials.
Community Support: Donating outdated, yet still usable electronics to local schools or charities is a great way to assure your items are not ending up in landfills. Cleaning the data off of your equipment and then donating this out-of-date item to someone in need is a great way to provide someone with something they otherwise would not be able to afford. Different groups have different needs though, so it is wise to check with them before offering a donation. This is especially true with computers, as many become obsolete and useless, and should just be recycled with a reputable e-waste recycler.
Job Creation: In excess of 90% of every electronic gadget in the world can be recycled. What this means is that the e-waste recycling business will continue to grow, creating a whole new job market within many communities.
Protecting Public Health: This is by far the most prominent reason to recycle your electronics with a reputable recycler. Many electronics contain highly hazardous materials, that are made even more dangerous if they find their way into the trash, and ultimately into our landfills, seeping into our water and poisoning our atmosphere. Some of the products you can help keep out of our environment are lead and mercury. Typical examples include the following:
- Televisions and computer monitors are highly hazardous because they have up to four pounds of lead per item.
- Circuit boards contain dangerous metals like mercury, cadmium, chromium and lead.
- Batteries within electronic items can contain those same dangerous metals.
Even newer monitors featuring a flat-screen can contain mercury in their relays and switches.
Donate or Recycle?
Donating a computer or electronic item to a local school or charity is a good idea, but there is one question you need to ask yourself before you do. Can your item be easily reused or refurbished? If not, then you are just passing your e-waste on to another person, and they may not properly recycle is as you would. When in doubt, recycle.