Our Certified Electronics Recyclers page explains what it means to be a certified recycler. Electronic products are made from valuable resources and materials, including metals, plastics, and glass, all of which require energy to mine and manufacture. Donating or recycling consumer electronics conserves our natural resources and avoids air and water pollution, as well as greenhouse gas emissions that are caused by manufacturing virgin materials.
Manufacturers and retailers offer several options to donate or recycle electronics. EPA does not endorse any of the participants or their products and services. Skip to main content. Related Topics: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. Contact Us. Additional Recycling and Donation Resources. Electronics donation and recycling is a great way to help conserve resources and natural materials.
Contact Us to ask a question, provide feedback, or report a problem. The cargo barge Khian Sea , was loaded with more than 14, tons of toxic ash from Pennsylvania which had been refused acceptance in New Jersey and the Caribbean. After sailing for 16 months, all the waste was dumped as "topsoil fertiliser" in Haiti and in the Bay of Bengal by November In June , a large illegal toxic waste dump which had been created by an Italian company was discovered. In , the first electronic waste recycling system was implemented in Switzerland, beginning with collection of old refrigerators but gradually expanding to cover all devices.
The first publication to report the recycling of computers and electronic waste was published on the front page of the New York Times on April 14, by columnist Steve Lohr. It detailed the work of Advanced Recovery Inc. After these schemes were set up, many countries did not have the capacity to deal with the sheer quantity of e-waste they generated or its hazardous nature.
They began to export the problem to developing countries without enforced environmental legislation. This is cheaper: the cost of recycling of computer monitors in the US is ten times more than in China. Demand in Asia for electronic waste began to grow when scrap yards found they could extract valuable substances such as copper, iron, silicon, nickel and gold, during the recycling process. The s saw a large increase in both the sale of electronic devices and their growth as a waste stream: in e-waste grew faster than any other type of waste in the EU.
E-cycling or "E-waste" is an initiative by the United States Environmental Protection Agency EPA which refers to donations, reuse, shredding and general collection of used electronics. Generically, the term refers to the process of collecting, brokering, disassembling, repairing and recycling the components or metals contained in used or discarded electronic equipment, otherwise known as electronic waste e-waste.
Investment in e-cycling facilities has been increasing recently due to technology's rapid rate of obsolescence, concern over improper methods, and opportunities for manufacturers to influence the secondary market used and reused products. Higher metal prices can result in more recycling taking place. Debate and certification standards may be leading to better definitions, though civil law contracts, governing the expected process are still vital to any contracted process, as poorly defined as "e-cycling".
The e-waste disposal occurring after processing for reuse, repair of equipment, and recovery of metals may be unethical or illegal when e-scrap of many kinds is transported overseas to developing countries for such processing. Another point of view is that the net environmental cost must be compared to and include the mining, refining and extraction with its waste and pollution cost of new products manufactured to replace secondary products which are routinely destroyed in wealthier nations, and which cannot economically be repaired in older or obsolete products.
As an example of negative impacts of e-waste, pollution of groundwater has become so serious in areas surrounding China's landfills that water must be shipped in from 18 miles 29 km away. Either thorough e-cycling processing, domestic processing or overseas repair, can help the environment by avoiding pollution.
Such e-cycling can theoretically be a sustainable alternative to disposing of e-waste in landfills. In addition, e-cycling allows for the reclamation of potential conflict minerals , like gold and wolframite , which requires less of those to be mined and lessens the potential money flow to militias and other exploitative actors in third-world that profit from mining them. Supporters of one form of "required e-cycling" legislation argue that e-cycling saves taxpayers money,  as the financial responsibility would be shifted from the taxpayer to the manufacturers.
Advocates of more simple legislation such as landfill bans for e-waste argue that involving manufacturers does not reduce the cost to consumers, if reuse value is lost, and the resulting costs are then passed on to consumers in new products, particularly affecting markets which can hardly afford new products.
It is theorized that manufacturers who take part in e-cycling would be motivated to use fewer materials in the production process, create longer lasting products, and implement safer, more efficient recycling systems. The critics of e-cycling are just as vocal as its advocates. According to the Reason Foundation , e-cycling only raises the product and waste management costs of e-waste for consumers and limits innovation on the part of high-tech companies.
Critics claim that e-waste doesn't occupy a significant portion of total waste. A final problem that people find is that identity fraud is all too common in regards to the disposal of electronic products. A hefty criticism often lobbed at reuse based recyclers is that people think that they are recycling their electronic waste, when in reality it is actually being exported to developing countries like China, India, and Nigeria.
For instance, at free recycling drives, "recyclers" may not be staying true to their word, but selling e-waste overseas  or to parts brokers. Although not possible in all circumstances, the best way to e-cycle is to upcycle e-waste.
Reuse-based e-recyclers believe that fair-trade incentives for export markets will lead to better results than domestic shredding. There has been a continued debate between export-friendly e-cycling and increased regulation of that practice. In the European Union, debate regarding the export of e-waste has resulted in a significant amendment to the WEEE directive January with a view to significantly diminishing the export of WEEE untreated e-waste.
The changes went further by placing the burden upon registered exporters to prove that used equipment leaving Europe was "fit for purpose". Currently, pieces of government legislation and a number of grassroots efforts have contributed to the growth of e-cycling processes which emphasize decreased exports over increased reuse rates.
It is the only state that legislates against e-waste through this kind of consumer fee; the other states' efforts focus on producer responsibility laws or waste disposal bans. No study has shown that per capita recovery is greater in one type of legislated program e. California versus ordinary waste disposal bans e. Massachusetts , though recovery has greatly increased in states which use either method. As of September, , Dell developed the nation's first completely free recycling program,  furthering the responsibilities that manufacturers are taking for e-cycling.
Manufacturers and retailers such as Best Buy, Sony, and Samsung have also set up recycling programs. It has been signed by numerous recyclers promising to recycle responsibly. Grassroots efforts have also played a big part in this issue, as they and other community organizations are being formed to help responsibly recycle e-waste.
No study has shown any difference in recycling methods under the Pledge, and no data is available to demonstrate difference in management between "Pledge" and non-Pledge companies, though it is assumed that the risk of making false claims will prevent Pledge companies from wrongly describing their processes. Many people believe that the U. British Columbia has more than 20 EPR programs under the Recycling Regulation legislation, which stops e-waste from being put into landfills and recycles them instead.
There are more than 80 programs in Canada as of Another longer-term solution is for computers to be composed of less dangerous products and many people disagree. No data has been provided to show that people who agree with the European model have based their agreement on measured outcomes or experience-based scientific method. E-waste presents a potential security threat to individuals and exporting countries.
Hard drives that are not properly erased before the computer is disposed of can be reopened, exposing sensitive information. Credit card numbers, private financial data, account information and records of online transactions can be accessed by most willing individuals. Organized criminals in Ghana commonly search the drives for information to use in local scams.
Government contracts have been discovered on hard drives found in Agbogbloshie , Ghana. There are ways to ensure that not only hardware is destroyed but also the private data on the hard drive. Having customer data stolen, lost, or misplaced contributes to the ever-growing number of people who are affected by identity theft , which can cause corporations to lose more than just money.
The image of a company that holds secure data, such as banks, law firms, pharmaceuticals, and credit corporations is also at risk. If a company's public image is hurt, it could cause consumers to not use their services and could cost millions in business losses and positive public relation campaigns. There is also a major backlash from the consumer if there is a data breach in a company that is supposed to be trusted to protect their private information.
If an organization has any consumer info on file, they must by law Red Flags Clarification act of have written information protection policies and procedures in place, that serve to combat, mitigate, and detect vulnerable areas that could result in identity theft. National Association for Information Destruction NAID "is the international trade association for companies providing information destruction services.
Suppliers of products, equipment and services to destruction companies are also eligible for membership. NAID's mission is to promote the information destruction industry and the standards and ethics of its member companies. The typical process for computer recycling aims to securely destroy hard drives while still recycling the byproduct. A typical process for effective computer recycling:. It also conducts periodic audits of disposal vendors.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. See also: Electronic waste by country. Electronics portal. Americans discard more than million computers, cellphones and other electronic devices each year. As "e-waste" piles up, so does concern about this growing threat to the environment".
Smithsonian Magazine. Smithsonian Institution. Archived from the original on Retrieved Roadmap to Greener Computing. CRC Press. ISBN Sunday Times. Seattle, Washington. Royal Australian Chemical instatute. Archived from the original on February 26, Retrieved March 3, United states geological survey. Archived PDF from the original on March 6, Retrieved March 4, The Balance Small Business. Archived from the original on 15 January Retrieved 30 May Green Technology.
Norwalk, Connecticut : Technology Marketing Corporation. In "Opinion". National Center For Electronics Recycling. An overview of unpredictable issues and challenges". Environment International. PMID Environmental Protection Agency. Congressional Quarterly. Archived from the original PDF on Historical Dictionary of Japanese Business, 2nd ed. Archived from the original on 14 March Retrieved 7 April Earth's Garbage Crisis. Archived from the original on 26 November Austin Business Journal.
Computer Apple Digest. News and Analysis. PC Magazine. Boston Globe. Globe Newspaper Company. Financial Times. Wired Magazine. Northern Nevada Business Weekly. Gozie 30 August Gozie Ogbodo". The New York Times. ISSN The Sixty Mile Publishing Company. Archived from the original on 28 September The Huffington Post. Gallo, Daniel Archived PDF from the original on Ethical Shopping. Archived from the original on 21 November Retrieved 29 November
There is no doubt that computers are difficult to recycle. With a single computer potentially containing up to four and a half pounds of lead, deciphering the unique chemical makeup of computer equipment requires an expert approach. Put simply, while many companies may claim that they know how to recycle computers, very few will understand how to extract the greatest amount of raw materials possible.
After all, just because a computer is obsolete does not mean it is broken, and various computer components can prove useful with a little creativity. Plenty of DIY tutorials can be found online, allowing you to potentially create:. We mentioned above just how difficult computers are to recycle. When asking ourselves how to recycle old computers in a way that will extract the greatest amount of valuable resources while minimizing the harm to the environment, we have come up with methods of turning electronic waste into the greatest amount of secondary raw materials possible.
Not only is responsible computer disposal the best and most environmentally friendly way of permanently disposing of obsolete computers, it is the only sustainable method — and the only way of ridding yourself of the burden of unwanted computer equipment without adding to the already dangerous levels of e-waste in United States landfill. All Green Recycling is the largest provider of computer recycling services throughout North America and operates more trucks than any other recycling company.
How to recycle your old computer. Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment. Recovering Valuable Resources and Minimizing Harm Here are some disturbing statistics: more than 20 million computers are discarded annually in the United States alone, and more than 2 million tons of computer waste is currently sitting in US landfill.
First thing that needs to be done before you start recycling computer parts is: Make sure you removed all data from your computer to prevent identity theft. Keyboard, speakers, mice, etc. You can likely recycle these parts as well using the same company where you take the machine, but these parts can easily be reused. Remove ssd or batteries if you used them in your computer or laptop.
Disassembly of Old Computers Computer recycling involves the disassembly of old computers into their various components, which are then separated and sorted, with the raw materials subsequently dealt with in the most environmentally friendly way. In this table , you can find detailed comparison of US e-waste laws. In most cases, it is the producers who pay for recycling.
In some states, everyone enjoys the opportunity to have their equipment recycled for free; in others, only individuals or households have it, which means businesses have to pay for it. Perhaps, one of the most important facts about it to remember is that some states banned e-waste from trash , and disposing of it irresponsibly is prohibited.
However efficient recycling may be, it cannot reduce waste to zero. It is a much better option to recycle rather than throw away, but we need to develop more efficient ways of recovering materials and using every tiny bit of products that we manufacture. With so much e-waste to deal with, there are simply not enough recyclers.
Their capacities are not enough to handle all the computers, cell phones and other devices that are being discarded every day in huge amounts. In many countries, there are little to no recyclers, and virtually all e-waste goes to landfills.
And it is not only nature that suffers due to it: it is often the case that children burn e-waste to get scrapes, and this definitely takes a toll on their health. Just as other businesses do — with the help of third parties.
When some hardware becomes obsolete and thus unneeded, it is given to recyclers who perform the series of tasks listed at the beginning of this article. It takes quite a lot of effort to maintain the green status of a hosting provider, but it is a must. Among the providers that have their equipment recycled and strive to be green are Acorn Host, Green Geeks, EcoHosting, etc.
Actually, computer recycling starts with you. Even one recycled computer matters. It is only after the overwhelming majority of people understand how important it is to dispose of waste — any waste, not only e-waste — responsibly that we can manage to keep it within the limits we can process.
Here are the simple steps you can take to get rid of unwanted equipment and devices in an environmentally friendly way. You can find a recycling center nearby using the list available on the EPA website. Besides, you can try browsing through your local websites. For instance, the website of Maine has a map with such spots. Pollution is a many-faceted issue, and e-waste can be very dangerous due to the toxic components it contains.
It is only after we learn how to use and reuse electronics responsibly that we can try to rein in the flow of e-waste efficiently. If we fail to understand the importance of the matter, one day we will regret it, as thousands of tons of electronic waste have a profound negative effect on the planet and its inhabitants.
Maybe giving them to someone else to reuse and recycle would be a good idea. I totally agree with you when you said that it is a much better option to recycle rather than throw away. I will recommend contacting a recycling company so that they can take care of the old PCs. Computer Recycling Basics. So how are computers recycled? Stage 1. Collection In order to recover materials from old computers, they have to be collected and transported to a recycling facility.
Stage 2. Sorting Before proceeding to more complex stages of processing, workers at a recycle facility sort everything that has been brought to the site by hand. Stage 3. Determining how they can be reused In fact, not all old computers are disassembled and turned into a bunch of separate components. Stage 4. Disassembly Those ones that are in too poor a condition are subject to manual disassembly. Stage 5. Getting rid of data Processors and hard drives, which may still store some of the information of their previous owner, are destroyed by means of shredding.
Stage 6. From debris to precious metals Everything that is left after the processes mentioned above is shredded or smelted. Stage 7. Reuse of metals and plastics The final stage is additional processing of the basic materials, such as plastics and metals. This is how old equipment is processed and reused. Who does it? There are several types of companies that operate in the field.
Primary recyclers. What they do is disassembling computers to determine which parts of them still function, and selling them to second-hand stores. Some of the units disassembled are sent to recycling facilities, but these are not always in the same county: some primary recyclers prefer to outsource processing of metals and plastics and delegate it to facilities in countries where labor is way cheaper. Another reason for redirecting these parts is that environmental regulations may be stricter in your area than in the region with cheap workforce.
What you should remember is that laxer regulations mean some toxic substances are more likely to leak and pollute the environment, so choose wisely who you want to give your old computer. Secondary recyclers. These specialize in separating valuable materials from the products they receive from primary recyclers. In some cases, manufacturers supply them with products for extraction directly.
Their aim is to get out raw materials which can be used in various industries afterwards. Regardless of whether they make a profit or not, resellers refurbish old computers , upgrade them if needed, and sell them to second-hand stores or donate to those who need them. Charities and schools often accept computers that are in a decent condition and give them to those who do not have a computer of their own.
Computer manufacturers. These do not constitute a major part of computer recyclers, but some manufacturers, like IBM, for instance, can take your old equipment and recycle it for a fee or for free if you are installing new equipment at the same time.
You'll want to search your manufacturer's website for details on its specific program. Computer recycling, electronic recycling or e-waste recycling is the disassembly and separation of components and raw materials of waste electronics. Although the procedures of re-use, donation and repair are not strictly recycling, these are. Computer recycling, electronic recycling or e-waste recycling is the disassembly and separation of components and raw materials of waste electronics.