With technology progressing in leaps and bounds, mass production systems falling in place, and computers becoming cheaper by the day, the number of obsolete computers being discarded by people for newer ones is also on the rise. Such computers are a valuable source for some raw materials, if recycled properly. If not done in the right manner, they can be a source of toxins that would pollute the earth to a very great extent.
Analysts feel the need for a legal framework and recycling system to be in place for proper handling of the recycling process. In the United States, an estimated 63 million computers have been traded for replacements as early as in 2007. For now, the numbers are likely to be much higher. Electronic wastes such as these if buried in the land, or are incinerated, can cause immense harm to the water table and surrounding air. Metals such as mercury, lead, and cadmium are released into the environment.
However, the good news is that materials like tin, silicon, aluminum, and some plastics that is removed from old computers can be reused in the making of newer machines. Copper and gold are also present in the circuitry and are valuable components.
Lead is a toxic metal that is present in reasonable quantities in a computer. A 15-inch computer can contain up to 1.5 pounds of the metal. Lead is also found on the circuit boards that contain the solder. Export of e-waste to countries that do not have strict environment regulations is a major controversy with countries exporting used computers accused of using the others as dumping grounds of e-waste.
Many countries have made it mandatory that the manufacturers and sellers of electronic equipment and computers are responsible for recycling them as well. Commercial businesses have the option of contacting the original equipment manufacturers and arranging the recycling program with them.
Consumers, on the other hand, can choose to donate computers to organizations that specifically function for the purpose, sending the device back to the company that manufactured the computer, or can choose to sell it to a recycling agency. There exist other companies that would buy old computers as a cheaper option.
Some non-profit organizations buy old computers for use and offer tax benefits in return to the seller. It is highly recommended that a buyer of the computer check all recycling/take-back services of the computer company before the purchase. Many a time they offer a new replacement in exchange for the old one. For systems that are too old or are just obsolete, scrapping them is the only choice. In countries where such systems cannot be buried, melting of dismantled components to retrieve some of the metals is the only choice.
Claire Jarrett is writing for Millrace IT, MillRace IT will buy any IT and telecoms equipment that still has economic value. They also offer Sell it equipment and Recycling IT