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Guide to computer recycling – Why you must recycle & how to do.
Learn all about computers recycling and how you can dispose of your e-waste responsibly and easily with free computers recycling centers throughout Canada. Free pick-up available or find locations of drop-off points for computer equipment you no longer need.
How many old computer monitors, keyboards, printers, servers, and cellular phones have you thrown out or put in your storage area? Probably more than a couple of items, right?
Those unwanted devices people leave out in the curb with their trash all pile up somewhere at an alarming rate with catastrophic consequences.
What is e-waste and how does it harm our environment?
E-waste, particularly computer equipment, is swiftly accumulating. Because of easy access to modern gadgets, consumers continually upgrade to newer, better, and more powerful devices available in the market. This has led to a mountain of waste that grows by the minute.
Statistics say that in the USA alone, around 20 million PCs are thrown away or set aside every year.
Discarded monitors, printers, hard drives, and other computers equipment are called e-waste. These items should not be thrown out together with regular household trash because they contain hazardous and toxic substances. These chemicals and heavy metals cause pollution to the environment.
Today, there is a growing alarm over the amount of e-waste improperly disposed throughout the world, especially in Asia, South America, and Africa.
TOXIC SUBSTANCES FOUND IN COMPUTERS CONSIDERED JUNK
Ferrous metals 32%
Non-ferrous metals 18%
Electronic boards 12%
Almost every organ of the human body is affected by e-waste because it has a wide mixture of toxic components like Lead, Mercury, Cadmium, Barium, Lithium, and Polybrominated Flame Retardants. These toxins can lead to birth defects and damage to the brain, heart, liver, kidney, and skeletal system.
A piece of computer equipment may contain up to 2 kg of lead. The complex mix of materials in PCs makes them very hard to recycle.
Primary and secondary exposure to toxic metals like lead can lead to pulmonary and cardiovascular diseases. This is why it is largely impractical and unsafe to keep obsolete electronic devices stored in your basement or attic. They don’t just take up valuable space; they also pose health risks to you and your family.
Dump of old and broken computers for disposal
Today, 170 countries have agreed to adopt a global ban on export of hazardous wastes like old electronics to developing countries. This deal aims to prevent dumping of toxic wastes including obsolete chips laden with asbestos around the world.
This development is a result of a controversial incident that took place in the Ivory Coast where hundreds of tons of waste were dumped in 2006 which killed 10 people and made tens of thousands seriously ill.
China is the leading importer for plastic waste according to the International Solid Waste Association. They dismantle old phones and computers using low-temperature burning which releases extremely harmful toxins into the air.
WHAT HAPPENS TO E-WASTE WE PUT OUT THERE?
Easy access to newer and better electronic devices create more e-waste that could harm the environment
The United Nations reports that around 41.8 million metric tons of e-waste was discarded by people from all over the world in 2014 alone.
From that huge number, Canadians contributed about 725 metric tons consisting of microwave ovens, vacuum cleaners, dishwashing machines, washing machines, and IT-related products.
In Canada, there are 2 solutions for dealing with e-waste.
1) Extended producer responsibility (EPR) means manufacturers handle end of life disposal of their electronic products. When you buy electronics in some provinces like British Columbia and Ontario, you may be charged “handling fees” that pays for recycling of your electronics.
2) Product stewardship is legislated environmental fees that are charged to the public. Provinces hand off electronic device disposal to private companies who make sure that e-waste is properly disposed of.
Manufacturers of electronic goods utilize e-waste management practices as part of their environmental policies. For instance, Dell covers the cost of home pick-up and transport to recycling centers of obsolete equipment. These goods are sorted based on type of material such as aluminum or steel and recycled to make new products like toys or car parts. Substances that cannot be reused are disposed of. Such practices aim to reduce waste which ends up in landfills while providing consumers with practical ways to dispose of their obsolete devices.
There are many private companies that help with disposal of e-waste which is completely free for consumers and companies.
Computer Recycling Canada offers free pick-up of computers equipment for recycling (minimum of 5 computers) as well as accessible drop-off points where you can bring such equipment to be disposed of.
RECYCLABLE ITEMS – WHAT QUALIFIES FOR E-WASTE RECYCLING
A wide array of electronics is accepted, in any condition, for recycling. These include:
desktops, notebooks, laptops, tablets, and all kinds of computers
printers, computer peripherals (keyboard, mouse, CD/DVD ROM, cards, accessories)
monitors and TV, cameras, cellphones, stereos, telephones and other electronic devices
servers, all kinds of batteries
This electronic equipment are evaluated for reuse or disposed of in an environmentally-friendly manner.
PROFESSIONAL E-WASTE RECYCLING – BEST PRACTICES AND HUGE BENEFITS
The proper disposal of e-waste is critical for addressing environmental and health concerns. It does not only eliminate the serious negative effects to our health and environment. It is also a viable business solution.
The significant benefits of recycling computers include:
1. conservation of resources
2. energy efficiency
3. elimination of environmental and health risks
4. economic growth
E-waste recycling reduces Pollution
When toxic e-waste is dumped in landfills, metals can seep out and pollute the soil and water, which causes health problems and harms the atmosphere. Burning e-waste results in heavy volatilized metals that is even more hazardous to public health.
The process of recycling prevents almost 70 million tons of e-waste from being dumped in incinerators and landfills every year.
Reduction of pollution is a major health benefit of recycling e-waste. Statistics disclose that in the USA, the amount of e-waste recycled every year reduces greenhouse gas emissions which is equivalent to 2.5 million cars being removed from the road.
Computer Recycling Optimizes Energy Efficiency and Conserves Resources
Computers recycling benefits extends to critical reduction of energy requirements.
It requires less energy to recycle e-waste for minerals than mining minerals. For example, it uses 95% less energy to recycle aluminum than to make it using raw materials, resulting in annual savings of over 19 million barrels of oil. This is enough energy to supply over 18 million households with electricity in a year. Recycling of steel from e-waste also saves almost 60% energy while recycling plastics and glass results in further energy savings amounting to 70% and 40%.
These energy savings have significant benefits to the reduction of air pollution generated by energy production and greenhouse gas emissions that causes global warming.
Computer Recycling Contributes to Economic Growth
There are several economic benefits to recycling e-waste. Today, it is one of the fastest growing business opportunities in the world. The recycling of more than 10,000 tons of e-waste creates jobs. In the US alone, estimates show that the computer recycling industry generates around 1.1 million jobs every year.
In addition, the resale of recycled materials which pays for expenses in recycling work costs much less than dumping e-waste in landfills or incinerating them.
How Electronic Waste is Recycled
The recycling of electronics involves recovery of raw materials like glass, plastic, and metals.
These materials are separated into the following categories:
· Non-hazardous materials
Ferrous and non-ferrous materials such as aluminum, steel, copper, cables and wires, metals (bronze, brass, metal fines), plastics, glass, and wood. These materials are subsequently sold to smelters to produce raw materials.
· Electronic scrap
Wires and cables, printed circuit boards, hard drives, chips, and other components
· Substances that merit concern
These include cathode ray tubes, leaded glass and leaded plasma display glass, rechargeable and non-rechargeable batteries, coin cell batteries from circuit boards, switches and mercury bearing lamps, ink and toner cartridges, and other components with polychlorinated biphenyls.
Memory and processors have the highest value in metals like gold, aluminum, silver, and rare earth metals. Chemists use acids to salvage these precious metals. Other materials of lower quality are crushed and then sorted by specialized machines. Hard drives are salvaged for their aluminum.
These metals are re-sold to smelting plants where they are purified and sold.
Materials that are deemed good for re-use is tested by technicians using professional computer software. Functional, repaired, and rebuilt computers are optimized and re-sold. Items that are broken or beyond repair are dismantled and sorted in warehouses. Metals that are salvaged are sent to smelters where they are sold as primary matter.
As you can see, computers junk can be utilized to conserve resources or disposed of without harming people or the environment. While there is no individual benefit to you as consumers, you can do your part in preserving Earth and ensuring it remains safe and viable for future generations.
We work hard to make electronics recycling in Ontario as safe and efficient as we possibly can. Every step of the process is given a lot of care and attention as we take the environment very seriously.
Homeowners and large companies looking for electronic recycling Hamilton, or electronic recycling Burlington, and all of Ontario can benefit from our services.
It takes so little to do your share. Check out how and where to recycle computers in Canada.