Recycling electronics not only helps prevent hazardous materials from filling landfills, but also conserves natural resources because the recycled electronics are reused, reports the National Center for Recycling Electronics. Recycling may also stimulate local job growth as businesses develop to handle increasing recycling needs. Donating is another means of recycling electronics, which helps to support low-income families, schools and communities throughout the world. Many people know that you can recycle computer and cell phones, but smaller electronics such as cameras and portable sound players can be recycled too.

If you throw out your old electronics, not only are you taking up increasingly scarce landfillspace with valuable resources like plastic, metal and glass that could be made into new devices using less energy than it takes with virgin resources, but you’re also putting potentially toxic materials in the ground. Lead, mercury and other substances can leech from old monitors and circuit boards into the air and ground water and possibly affect people’s health. In some countries and many U.S. states, particular electronic components are regulated as hazardous waste.

So, if you’re not going to put your old computer in the dumpster, you’re down to two choices: reuse orrecycle. If the device is in good working order, reuse is the better option. Refurbishing is easier on the environment than recycling. Recycling uses energy, and the longer you can keep the non-recyclable parts out of a landfill, the better. You can donate a working electronic device for reuse in any number of ways. Cell phones are easy — the store where you buy your new one will usually donate your old one for you at little or no cost. And if you want to choose which charity gets to have your old phone, a simple Web search will point you to a selection of charities in your area that want it.


It’s no small step, considering that 20 to 50 million tons of electronics waste (often called e-waste) is discarded globally every year, according to Greenpeace. If all that e-rubbish were put into containers on a train it would go once around the world! E-waste is the fastest growing component of the municipal solid waste stream, and currently makes up five percent of all municipal solid waste.

In the past, no one thought of recycling computers and other electronics. The only option was tossing them on the curb. But these days engineers have taken notice that electronics usually contain a wealth of valuable materials. Plus, recycling almost always means lower net carbon emissions, which is something everyone is now paying closer attention to because of global warming. Finally, electronics are made with a sizable amount of lead, cadmium, brominated fire retardants and plastics that can leach toxic breakdown products — that’s stuff no one wants in their water supply!

The Prep Work

As much as you’d like to go all “Office Space” on some of those electronics from years’ past, that can get messy. It’s also not too environmentally friendly, considering that there are glass, plastic, metals, and plenty of other non-biodegradable goodies inside and out that need to be dealt with. What’s more, you also need to be certain that they are being recycled properly.

That’s right; as good as your intentions are, some people’s recycling services are about as effective as throwing your devices right in the trash. That’s bad. “The average CRT tube on any monitor or television holds between six to eight pounds of lead. It needs to be properly processed,” says Rachel Robin of Guaranteed Recycling Xperts (GRX), a Colorado-based recycling business that handles about one million pounds of electronics each month. “Once that glass is crushed and open, the lead is exposed to the environment.” Robin says that instead of recycling, some shadier firms even sell the items to overseas brokers instead.

To find a reputable recycler in your area, check out, a site sponsored by the Consumer Electronics Association. From there, you can type in your zip code and a map will help you pinpoint nearby drop-offs ready to take your gadgets.

In addition, before you go anywhere, make sure that you “clean,” or wipe the memory of, any devices that might contain personal information. That “property of” label on the back of your old 8-track might come off easily, but credit card info, social security numbers and other personal data aren’t as easily erased. Mercifully, there are plenty of programs, such asDataEraser and WipeDrive, that can do the job for you. Of course, if you are really paranoid, in the case of a Mac or PC, you can always remove the hard drive from the computer and stick it in a drawer, smash it with a hammer, etc.

Main Components in Electronic Devices :

Some computer components can be reused in assembling new computer products, while others are reduced to metals that can be reused in applications as varied as construction, flatware, and jewelry.

Substances found in large quantities include epoxy resins, fiberglass, PCBs, PVC (polyvinyl chlorides),thermosetting plastics, lead, tin, copper, silicon, beryllium, carbon, iron and aluminium.

Elements found in small amounts include cadmium, mercury, and thallium.

Elements found in trace amounts include americium, antimony, arsenic, barium, bismuth, boron, cobalt,europium, gallium, germanium, gold, indium, lithium, manganese, nickel, niobium, palladium, platinum,rhodium, ruthenium, selenium, silver, tantalum, terbium, thorium, titanium, vanadium, and yttrium.

Almost all electronics contain lead and tin (as solder) and copper (as wire and printed circuit board tracks), though the use of lead-free solder is now spreading rapidly.


Posted by

Mahesh (MGIT ECE 4th year )