Recycling is good for the environment. This is never truer for most people than with electronics. Computers, phones, tablets, laptops, and similar are filled with a bevy of toxic materials all through the device. None are in any amounts that are dangerous while in use, and until such time as these items are disposed of, they are not something to worry about. However, when thrown into a landfill, these are the compounds that can be released into the environment.
- Lead in older cathode-ray monitors
- Mercury in LCD monitors
- Cadmium in batteries
- Beryllium in motherboards
- Flame Retardants
These are just a few of the toxic elements found in the systems. While in the computers, they are in trace amounts and serve no specific danger. In a landfill or incinerator however, these leak out and become hazards to health and the world around us. The EPA has estimated that computer recycling saves enough energy for 3500 homes for a year each. Doing this will save energy and the environment. Additionally, the forward march of technology means newer and more powerful devices are constantly being created. This causes many machines to become obsolete long before they become inoperable. The growing pile of unwanted computers on a global scale is becoming a serious issue. Some estimates have 65.4 million tons of computer waste generated every year by consumers. Over time, this estimate is only increasing
Often, these devices are still either in working order, or only a single part of them is broken. Systems that are in decent or better working order, just outdated, can be refurbished and made available to organizations that help communities. Low-income families and individuals can make use of a cheap or second-hand computer that you no longer need. When considering doing such with a computer, a series of steps should be considered. First, be sure to test and assess the system for use. It may not be needed by you, but it should be working before donating to a local group for refurbishing. Second, be absolutely certain to remove your information from the system. The DoD system is to overwrite random bits of information through three sweeps of a system. Doing so ensures that no data is recoverable. If possible, replace any worn cords or parts so the system is still usable. Once that is done, you can either donate to a group like the Salvation Army or Goodwill, or donate it to a shelter or similar in your area.