Computer Recycling

How electronics recycling benefits the environment

With the heaps upon heaps of computer and electronic equipment in widespread use throughout the world, concerns about waste are well-founded. To address these issues, many municipalities and private companies have set up computer recycling and electronics recycling programs to reduce the amount of garbage these items produce when their lives are at an end.

In the days of large, clunky desktop computers, monitors were big and bulky and posed a real waste problem. Computer monitor recycling was among the earliest initiatives, and the popularity of recycling computer equipment soared from there. Today, you can offer up desktops, laptops, cell phones, PDAs, video game consoles, televisions, DVD players and many other electronics for recycling instead of throwing them out with the trash.

How Electronics Recycling Works

Electronics and computer recycling doesn't work quite the same way that other recycling programs do, though they do share some concepts. For example, recycled paper is made from salvaged paper fibers which are repurposed into new sheets. Computer and electronics recycling is similar yet different, in that it aims to salvage and repurpose specific components for reuse, but doesn't melt them down or break them into their constituent parts they way metal, glass, plastic and paper recycling programs do. Rather, electronics recycling extracts whole structures and components, leaving them intact so they can be put right into a refurbished product that can later be sold or donated.

For example, in computer hardware recycling, a system's motherboard may be perfectly fine while the surrounding circuits and components are damaged. In such a case, a computer recycling program would extract the entire motherboard for reuse, then deal with the leftover waste separately.

Find Local Electronics Recycling Programs

Not all old computer recycling programs disassemble systems to save whatever is available for reuse. Some initiatives are designed to help less fortunate members of the community. If you have replaced your old computer but the machine is still in good working order, you may be able to donate it to an electronics recycling program that will send it along to someone in need. The same is true of cell phones, Smartphones and other personal digital devices.

Check with municipal officials to see what programs are available in your community. If you have a machine you'd like to donate, charities like Goodwill and United Way may be able to accept them if your city lacks a dedicated electronics reuse program.

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