Many people are not aware of the significant security problems posed by discarding old electronics. When computers are not recycled properly, it is possible that proprietary data could be stolen and reused by criminals. Recycling your computers properly is a must in today’s world as it is rife with cybercrime and information theft.
When individuals and businesses are replacing their computers, they need to know where to turn to safely recycle their old machines. Computer Recycling shares why computers must be properly recycled, describes the recycling process, and names some of the criteria you should use when preparing to choose a recycling service for your old computer equipment.
Why Do Computers Need To Be Recycled?
Following are several reasons why computers should be safely recycled. Computer Recycling recommends that every computer owner become familiar with these concepts.
Dangers of Chemicals and Metals Found in Computers
A computer is a complex machine with many parts that could be dangerous if released into the general waste stream. Keeping this toxic waste out of landfills is one of the major reasons why computers should be recycled.
Some of the toxic substances included in the average computer include cadmium, mercury, chromium, beryllium, and lead. Mercury and chromium are found in circuit boards, relays, and switches. Beryllium is found in motherboards and connectors. Cadmium is contained in chip resistors, cables, wires, semiconductors, and infrared detectors. Monitors contain a significant amount of lead. An old CRT monitor contains up to eight pounds of lead. Though newer flat-screen models do not contain nearly as much lead, their amount could be dangerous for the environment and human health.
These toxic metals could cause human health problems if people are exposed to them, and they can also contaminate the environment if they go into landfills.
In addition to toxic metals, computers often include brominated flame retardants, which can cause problems with hormones, reproductive systems, metabolic, and thyroid functions. Taking these dangerous substances out of the general waste stream is one of the highest priorities of recycling computers.
Reusing Old Components
Many components of a discarded computer can be reused to make new machines. Many types of plastic and glass waste can be built into up-to-date computers. Recycling these materials back into manufacturing lessens the amount of precious natural resources used to create a computer.
Several types of precious metals are included in computer hardware that should be reclaimed before discarding a machine. Semiconductors contain gold, silver, and copper. Globally, $21 billion in gold and silver is used to make computers each year, and only 15 percent of these metals are recycled.
The Recycling Process
The first step in the recycling process is separating and removing all hazardous materials from the computers. Reputable recycling firms train all of their employees to remove these items safely.
The next step is shredding the computer. After all hazardous materials are removed, the computers are fed by a conveyor belt into a large shredder. This shredder disassembles the computer into small pieces, roughly two to six inches in diameter. This allows the e-waste to be separated by type and material.
Hard drives must also be destroyed during the recycling process. If hard drives are not properly wiped and shredded, it is possible that bad actors could access the data contained in them.
Finally, safe e-waste is packaged and sold, while dangerous byproducts are properly disposed of. Environmentally conscious computer manufacturers buy old materials rather than relying on fossil fuels and mining to create their new products.
Questions That You Should Ask a Recycling Firm
When you are in the process of getting quotes for a recycling service, it is a good idea to ask the companies these questions:
- What types of materials do you accept? A computer recycler should accept hardware and peripherals. Both types of products could contain hazardous materials and proprietary data.
- How do you protect computers from data theft? In addition to properly wiping hard drives, a reputable firm like Computer Recycling will have the means to shred the hard drives. Shredding means that there is no way to reassemble and access the data, and it is gone forever.
Doing Your Part for the Environment and Data Security
When you properly recycle used computer equipment, you can rest assured that you are doing the right thing for the environment and data security. Rather than storing old machines indefinitely in an insecure location, opening yourself up to the possibility of data theft, it is a good idea to wipe and recycle computers as soon as they have become obsolete.
Computer Recycling recommends contracting with a recycling firm that can safely shred your hard drives and remove the possibility of data theft. When you properly recycle your computers, you can feel good about your data security and protect the environment for future generations.