Computer and electronic recycling
Computer recycling or electronic recycling is the recycling or reuse of computers or other electronic devices. It includes both finding another use for materials (such as donation), and having systems dismantled, in a manner that allows for the safe extraction of the constituent materials for reuse in other products.
Reasons for recycling:
Obsolete computers or other electronics are valuable source for secondary raw materials, if treated properly; if not, they are a source of toxins and carcinogens. Rapid technology change, low initial cost, and planned obsolescence have resulted in a fast-growing surplus of computers or other electronic components around the globe. Technical solutions are available, but in most cases a legal framework, a collection system, logistics, and other services need to be implemented before applying a technical solution. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, estimates 30 to 40 million surplus PCs, classified as “hazardous household waste”, would be ready for end-of-life management in the next few years. The U.S. National Safety Council estimates that 75% of all personal computers ever sold are now surplus electronics.
In 2007, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said that more than 63 million computers in the U.S. were traded in for replacements or discarded. Today, 15% of electronic devices and equipment are recycled in the United States. Most electronic waste is sent to landfills or incinerated, which releases materials such as lead, mercury, or cadmium into the soil, groundwater, and atmosphere, thus having a negative impact on the environment. Many materials used in computer hardware can be recovered by recycling for use in future production. Reuse of tin, silicon, iron, aluminum, and a variety of plastics that are present in bulk in computers or other electronics can reduce the costs of constructing new systems. Components frequently contain lead, copper, gold and other valuable materials suitable for reclamation.