E-waste:
Recycle computers and equipment

Computers get faster and faster, prices get cheaper and cheaper, and the e-waste we create gets even more plentiful. How do we recycle computer equipment and why is it important?

E-waste consists of computers, monitors, printers, TVs, and other household electronics. The vast majority of consumer electronics contain hazardous materials that when disposed or incinerated can contaminate our air and soil. Some examples include:

Cadmium - Much of the Cadmium found in landfills is due to the disposal of NiCd (rechargeable) batteries which are used in laptops, mp3 players, cameras, etc. Cadmium can create health problems similar to lead and amounts found in our bodies rise as we age due to consistent exposure. The existence of cadmium in landfills adds to our potential exposure by contaminating our soil and drinking water.

Lead - Cathode Ray Tubes (CRTs) or picture tubes are commonly used in televisions and computer monitors. These tubes contain lead which again will contaminate our soil and drinking water when found in landfills. Health risks from lead exposure include brain and nervous system damage, behavioral and developmental problems in children, reproductive problems in adults and high blood pressure. A typical 17" CRT contains 2.2 pounds of lead! For more information on the studies linked to leaded CRT glass, visit: Solid and Hazardous Waste Studies

What do we do with these items as they become outdated, obsolete, or simply no longer work, and we replace them with newer models? Can we recycle computers? Check out these options.

Reuse - The best method to limit the amount of e-waste we create is to eliminate it. Instead of purchasing a new computer, upgrade it and add a few years of life to it. Memory, hard drives, operating systems, etc. are all easy methods of getting more life from your current system. And if you don't feel comfortable upgrading your own computer, there are several willing folks that are happy to do it for you (for a small fee of course). In the long run, you will wind up saving money by upgrading.

Donate - Many non-profit organizations rely on your outdated computer to use as their office PC. Schools and daycares are almost always willing to take your old computer off of your hands so that students have more access.

Recycling - Many PC manufacturers will accept and recycle computers to de-manufacture and reuse as much of the old system as possible. This keeps manufacturing costs down and decreases the amount of waste created.

For more information on e-waste, please visit the following resources.

Toxic E-trash

Back to Recycle Hazardous Waste

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