Computer recycling, electronic recycling or e-waste recycling is the recycling of computers and any other electronic devices. Recycling is the complete deconstruction of electronic devices in order to cut down on mining the raw materials and rather extract the materials from old and obsolete electronics.
Reasons for recyclingEdit
Obsolete computers and old electronics are valuable sources for secondary raw materials, if recycled; if not, these devices 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 and other electronic components around the globe. Technical solutions are available, but in most cases a legal framework, 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 Pb, Hg, or Cd 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 Sn, Si, Fe, Al, 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 Pb, Cu, Au and other valuable materials suitable for reclamation.
Computer components contain many toxic substances, like dioxins, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), Cd, Cr, radioactive isotopes and Hg. A typical computer monitor may contain more than 6% lead by weight, much of which is in the lead glass of the cathode ray tube (CRT). A typical 15 inch (38 cm) computer monitor may contain 1.5 pounds (1 kg) of Pb but other monitors have been estimated to have up to 8 pounds (4 kg) of Pb. Circuit boards contain considerable quantities of lead-tin solders that are more likely to leach into groundwater or create air pollution due to incineration. The processing (e.g. incineration and acid treatments) required to reclaim these precious substances may release, generate, or synthesize toxic byproducts.
Export of waste to countries with lower environmental standards is a major concern. The Basel Convention includes hazardous wastes such as, but not limited to, CRT screens as an item that may not be exported transcontinentally without prior consent of both the country exporting and receiving the waste. Companies may find it cost-effective in the short term to sell outdated computers to less developed countries with lax regulations. It is commonly believed that a majority of surplus laptops are routed to developing nations as "dumping grounds for e-waste". The high value of working and reusable laptops, computers, and components (e.g. RAM) can help pay the cost of transportation for many worthless "commodities". The laws governing the exportation of waste electronics are put in place to stop "recycling companies" in developed countries from shipping their waste to 3rd world countries as working devices, they are never working devices. The 3rd world workers scavenge specific items, selling value, and throw the rest away to rot and become a health hazard in their own backyard.
equal to 3/8 trees
- Data erasure
- Data remanence
- Digger gold
- Electronic waste
- Polychlorinated biphenyls
- Electronic Waste Recycling Fee
- Material safety data sheet
- Computer technology for developing areas
- CBL Data Recovery
- Policy and conventions
- Basel Convention
- Electronic Waste Recycling Act
- Restriction of Hazardous Substances Directive (RoHS)
- China RoHS
- Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive (WEEE directive)
- Sustainable Electronics Initiative (SEI)
- Computers For Schools
- Empower Up
- Free Geek
- International Network for Environmental Compliance and Enforcement
- Nonprofit Technology Resources
- Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition
- Solving the E-waste Problem
- World Computer Exchange