“Computer recycling” commonly known as electronic recycling or E-recycling refers to the process of recycling of computers and other related devices to reuse them. The computer recycling process is closely associated with disposal of the computer and it is done by finding an alternative use of the device and then it is dismantled eventually. The recycling and disposal often contribute to a greater cause such as donation or charity. The system of dismantling the unit includes specific procedures and the principal one being the extraction of the various parts constituting the computer safely and intact.
The main reason for the computer disposal and recycling process gaining popularity around the world is the fast-paced technology scenario, which has made way to the growing number of computer systems. The low level of initial cost has also led to the emergence of the planned obsolescence.
The different raw materials constituting the computer system bear toxic substances like dioxins, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), cadmium, chromium, mercury and carcinogens. The monitor of a computer might contain 1.5 -8 pounds of lead depending on the screen size. The other parts like circuit boards etc. also contain favourable amount of lead and other toxins. Hence, the process of computer recycling and disposal can be termed as more or less hazardous as the incineration and acid treatments involved in the recycling processing might lead to generation of toxic by product, which in turn might give rise to air pollution or can even leach into the ground water unless utmost safety measures are taken.
Basically the process of computer recycling can be divided into two broad types- Consumer Recycling and Corporate Recycling. The consumer recycling includes donation of the computer directly to a charitable organisation, so that someone in need of the technology can use it. Recycling can even mean returning the components to the original manufacturer so that they can be refurbished or recycled more methodically. On the other hand, the corporate look at the recycling process to be a cost effective mean to recycle bulk of computer peripherals. They mainly do it to get rid of the computer equipments, which are no more of any use to the organisation and are rather lying unwanted. Hence the data is wiped off from the systems and then an estimation of the rest of the value of the product is been done. Lastly they are been refurbished and sold to the smaller companies who are looking for affordable options to save the cost of buying new systems. There are various companies that stringently follow the principles of data protection and environmental friendly computer disposal methods and hence employ strict norms to keep the environment clean.
There are certain rules and regulations regarding the recycling and disposal of the computer systems as many companies often export the recycled units to developing nations with lower environmental standards in order to achieve cost effectiveness but that is not a method to be practiced. Therefore there are various regulatory bodies keeping stern eyes on the malpractices. So it is better to be careful while undertaking the computer recycling and disposal endeavours.