When your business recycles computer parts and other electronic equipment, the impact is counted in big numbers.

The United States generated 6.92 million tons of e waste in 2019. Yet, it only recycled 15% of the materials. If you also consider the value of raw materials in those discarded electronics added up to $7.49 billion, you can easily see the waste is staggering. 

But your business can be part of the solution. It does pay to recycle computer parts and other electronic equipment. The gains are not only counted in the creation of a potential new revenue stream for your business; electronics recycling reduces energy and water consumption, cuts pollution and carbon emissions, keeps valuable and useful materials out of landfills, and decreases the need to exploit virgin materials. 

As obvious as this may seem, it is a message that we have to drive home from time to time. Despite the progress in recent years, the numbers clearly show we can all do better. For so many reasons, we cannot continue to let so much go to waste. 

Seek to recycle computer parts? The environment (and bottom line) will thank you

For the purpose of this post, let’s take a look inside your company workhorse — the computer —  and what happens when you recycle computer parts. These statistics speak to the impact of recycling computers:

  • Consider, for example, that only 2% of a computer cannot be recycled. In other words the glass monitor, power cord, circuit board, batteries, printer cartridges, plastic casing, and hard drives are all recyclable materials. As an R2-certified electronics recycler, it’s our job to sanitize your data, refurbish appropriate equipment for resale, and recover and recycle base and precious metals.
  • The manufacturing of one computer and monitor requires 500 pounds of fossil fuel, 50 pounds of chemicals, and 1.5 tons of water, according to the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). The longer the life of a computer can be extended and the more materials can be recovered once it reaches end-of-life, the lesser the environmental impact.
  • One ton of circuit board contains 40 to 800 times more gold and 30 to 40 times more copper than one metric ton of ore. Circuit board recycling can, in other words, yield better results than mining. 
  • And, finally, here’s a whopper of a fact: If the recycling rates for gold (15%), silver (15%), and platinum (5%) all increased to 100%, the electronics sector could realize $12 billion in financial and natural capital benefits, according to EPEAT, a global green electronic rating system.

It all adds up

The power is, of course, in numbers. While the amount of metal in a single computer is tiny, the amount extracted from hundreds of thousands, or millions, of computers has far-reaching impact. 

U.S. residents and businesses discard about 41 million computers every year. Consider the impact if it all actually reached certified electronics recycling facilities across the country. The potential for reuse and resource recovery is indeed massive.

Think, for instance, of the silver and copper in circuit boards and gold-laced microprocessors. The reuse of reclaimed gold alone alleviates pressure on mines around the globe, saves money and resources, and helps produce a wide range of products and applications, such as:

  • Dental crowns
  • Fine wire in computer circuitry
  • Space shuttle engines 

The circular economy is waiting

As much as it may seem like a hassle to recycle computer parts, keep your eye on the big picture and the impact your decisions have. Dramatically reducing the e waste mountain is one of the biggest challenges of our time. Take action and join the circular economy. When news of irresponsible disposition makes the headlines, your business plays no part in it. No more valuable materials going to waste in growing landfills. No more toxins leaking into the groundwater. And no more discarded electronics polluting developing nations. 

You hand off your retired electronic equipment for recycling. We create separated streams of recycled precious metals, copper, aluminum, iron, and more. It’s a win-win for your business, the environment, and all the industries that leverage the commodities to make next-generation products. 

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Make sure to read:

For optimal IT asset recovery, consider alternatives to degaussing

Evaluating ITAD companies and other lessons from the Morgan Stanley data breach 

6 easy ways to increase IT asset recovery value

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