Computer recycling has become a major industry in the U.S. and beyond. As computer hardware and software gets better and cheaper, many individuals and companies now replace their computer equipment every three to five years. This has led to increasingly stringent regulations to prevent a glut of computers and peripherals from winding up in municipal landfills.
Computers and computer peripherals contain an array of toxic materials and elements, including mercury, lead, cadmium, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), chromium and other heavy metals that have proven to be a threat to public safety if not disposed of properly.
Although they account for only about 1% of the total materials in U.S. landfills, computers and electronics account for an estimated 70% of landfill toxins according to the Environmental Protection.
In 2005 the United States House of Representatives passed the National Computer Recycling Act to help manage the growing public safety threat. In addition to federal regulations, states and some municipalities also regulate how computers and certain computer peripherals may be disposed of.
In addition to the health and environmental risks, disposing of your old computer or other electronics in a dumpster or through curbside pickup leaves you susceptible to identity and data theft. In a February 2016 article, Safelink.io cited dumpster diving as one of the Top 5 ways identity thieves gain access to sensitive personal and business information.
Computer Recycling Options
Nearly 100% of computer components can be re-manufactured and repurposed, and some computer and electronics retailers and manufacturers offer “take back” programs that allow you to drop off your obsolete equipment for disposal. In most cases, there is no cost for these programs, but many require that provide certain purchase documentation and that you drop off, or ship the equipment off at an authorized facility.
Unfortunately, there have been numerous reports of improper disposal associated with these programs. In May of this year, a report by the Basel Action Network (BAN), working in conjunction with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Senseable City Lab, documented improper disposal of seven tracker-enabled computer peripherals through Dell Computer’s Reconnect e-waste recycling program. The peripherals were exported to China, Hong Kong and Thailand in violation of international law, and the company’s own policy of policy of not exporting e-waste to developing countries.
Computer recycling by a reputable recycling service is a safe, secure, and environmentally responsible alternative to landfill disposal and take back programs. Commercial recycling companies harvest valuable, reusable components and materials, and recycle less valuable materials such as plastics and nonprecious metals
It can also be a profitable alternative for individuals and businesses. Austin, Texas based All American Recycling co-founder Ryan Borders says, “All American Recycling complies with all local, state and federal regulations. And because we deal directly with local metal mills, we eliminate the middle man. This allows us to contain costs, and offer our customers the best possible prices for their recyclable computer components and electronics.”
Most computer recycling services offer drop-off and pick-up services, and will provide you with an upfront quote. Keep in mind that commodity prices fluctuate daily so quotes are typically only valid for up to 24 hours.
Don Williams is a digital marketer based in the Dallas / Fort Worth area.