Society's technological advancements have grown significantly over the years. Electronics devices such as telephones, cell phones, radios, CD and DVD players, televisions, and computers are products that are used in every household. These items are just a few of the many electronic devices that can cause serious environmental damage due to their toxic components. Electronics that are in need of disposal are referred to as e-waste, or electronic waste. Because of the advancement of electronic products, there has been a growing concern about the hazards of electronic waste. Some of these concerns include: improper disposal of toxic materials, health and safety concerns for people disposing of these items, as well as dangers to the soil and water supply. For instance, electronics are made using a considerable amount of toxic substances such as lead, cadmium, aluminum, zinc, copper, and plastics which can all leak poisonous material in the ground and water. These environmental concerns have resulted in the establishment of electronic recycling facilities and industries who take old electronics such as computers for the purpose of recycling and safe disposal.
Electronics containing materials such as metals, plastic, are valuable to the recycling companies. Disposing of electronics through a recycling company will result in fewer electronic devices going into landfills and lower carbon emissions.
Recovering Raw Materials: Recycling electronics involves recovering raw materials from the electronic equipment. Materials such as steel, copper, wires, aluminum, brass, plastics, glass,etc., are extracted and sold to smelters so they can create raw materials. Depending on the type of metal being extracted, they can be processed and used in products required by such businesses as the steel, construction and cement industry. Plastics and wood can be used as fuel to provide heat to industrial furnaces which converts to steam. Metals such as copper are sold to metal refineries.
Plastics: Plastics from such items as computers, computer mice, and keyboards, are sent through shredding processes and machine sorted. They are then sent to other recyclers for further processing.
Larger Electronics: Items such as televisions and computer monitors are dismantled by hand. The leaded glass cathode ray tubes are removed and disposed of safely. Plastics, copper, and circuit boards are removed, separated, and processed.
Hazardous Items: Toxic items are removed from electronic devices and disposed of safely. Toxic substance can include leaded glass, rechargeable batteries, non-rechargeable batteries (i.e.alkaline, lead acid, cell batteries) mercury in lamps and switches, parts containing polychlorinated biphenyls, as well as ink and toner cartridges. The remaining non toxic materials are processed and the recyclable materials are recovered. The materials are shredded and separated according to type. For instance, they can be divided into such materials as steel, copper, aluminum, and plastic.
Refurbished Electronics: There are now many companies that acquire used computers, repair and update them, and resell them at a much lower price. This is a great way to keep electronics out of landfills and make technology more affordable.
Donate Your Computer: If you are getting rid of your old computer because of a recent upgrade, consider donating it to charity. Many schools and non profit organisations are in need of computers. There are companies and businesses that will take your computer, refurbish it, and donate it to a needy cause. Make sure your computer is wiped clean of all information before donating it. Donating your computer helps the community and the environment.
We are fast becoming a technology dependent society. When it comes to protecting and conserving our environment, we have to adapt and change our technological practices to ensure a sustainable future. Recycling electronics is a great way help the planet.
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