Recycling Computers Washington DC
Capitol Heights, MD
Capitol Heights, MD
If you think there’s no need for recycling computers, you shouldn’t be surprised. In 2007, only around 20 percent of all retired computers (meaning, computers that are no longer being used) are recycled, according to the Environment Protection Program of the United States. This means, out of five used computers, only one is recycled. Computer recycling is necessary because old computers are waste. And they’re not just any waste. The components of these computers can be very hazardous to the environment when not handled properly. They have carcinogens and toxins, both of which can be a cause to a number of adverse effects even disposed when like ordinary trash. Many of the computer parts are made of plastic, and everyone knows what plastics can do to the environment. In any case, old computers are considered now as hazardous household waste.
This is why computer recycling is necessary. You should treat your old and used computers like toxic waste; and you simply wouldn’t throw toxic waste to the dumpster. Recycling is your only possible option. But can you recycle old computers? And what are the kinds of recycling you can use or practice?
Going green with computers
There are two ways to go about this computer recycling procedure. One, of course, is to go to recycling centers. The manufacturer of your computer should their own recycling program or center (after all, the used computers are their products). However, there is a problem here: recycling computers isn’t free if you go to your computer manufacturer. You will have to pay a fee for recycling, and you also have to shoulder shipping the old computers to their offices.
But there is an advantage to sending used computers to these centers: you will be sure that your old computers are actually disposed of and recycled properly. Many computers and organizations offer computer recycling for free or a fee much lower than the ones asked by computer manufacturers—yet supporting their business can be quite risky. For one, are you completely sure the used computers are indeed recycled? Would you be able to sleep tightly if you knew some scrupulous individuals can use technology to siphon information from your used computers? Also, instead of disposing the old computers properly, some of these companies send them to China or other computers. China has a law against the improper disposal of used computers, yet there are still scrupulous individuals in the country who disposal their technology through illegal means. Needless to say, it is cheaper to send used computers to China than to dispose of them properly.
When recycling computers, consider the center or the organization that will do the recycling. Feel free to ask how they will recycle the computer and where they are going to send it, if ever. The point of computer recycling is to dispose of the used computers properly, not to merely take it out of your hands. If the center wouldn’t recycle the computers properly, what the point?
There are resources online that can provide you with ample information about these recycling centers. eBay’s Rethink Program offers a computer recycling FAQ, while the Silicon Valley Toxins Coalition offers reports regarding the company’s environmental effectiveness (of course, with their computer recycling program included). You can also consider giving your used computers to the likes of FreeGeek. FreeGeek, among other organizations and groups, build functional computers out of the parts of the old computers. Of course, you should only send your old computers to such organizations if your computer is still functional. If it’s just a fancy paperweight, don’t bother.
Donating old computers
Another way to go about recycling computers? Donating them. Of course, this isn’t an easy way out of recycling computers properly. You need to consider some factors before you do this.
First, you need to assess your computer. Is it still functional? Can it be reused? As a general rule, old computers can be donated if it isn’t older than five years old. After this period of time, the computer becomes obsolete—or at least hardly functional to be recycled either by part or by whole. Otherwise, the computer should be good for donating. However, if your computer isn’t wholly older than five years old, tag or identify parts (hardware) that are older than five years. This way, old computer parts that can be reused will be donated, while those that cannot be reused will simply be recycled. Again, make sure that the computer can still be reused in any capacity before you donate it.
Some recycling and donating centers do not accept all kinds of computer models. Make sure you are aware of the computers they accept if you donate yours. Before you send your computer, call them to clarify.
When donating used computers, remember that other people will be using them. Therefore, it is imperative that you send along with the used computers the documentation and original media software. This is to ensure that the software you are using is legal. Again, remember that the donated computers will be used (perhaps in schools or offices that need computers but cannot buy their own). This means you need to provide all the necessary equipment to make the used computers more functional. Needless to say, if you can include mice, keyboards, and other similar computer paraphernalia, much better. By donating these as well, you are helping them even more.
This may be unpopular, but you can actually do computer recycling yourself. You can use the parts of your computer that can still be serviceable instead of throwing it out. Of course, this probably means you need to know a little about computer technology in order to do the assembling yourself.
In any case, whatever you do, you must dispose of your old computers properly. It is against the law to dispose computers improperly, needless to say, and it doesn’t do the environment any good. Recycling computers is more than just going green (which is a rather popular fad these days). It’s about doing the right thing.