Have you wondered as to what happened to the computers that were used about 10 years ago? The big white boxes, with big monitors, and ancient keyboards, have been replaced with sleek laptops. Yes, the old equipment, which was a must have for any individual about 5 years ago, has become obsolete now. As a matter of fact, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has estimated that from the year 2005 onwards, 45 million computers will become obsolete annually.
Before you think about disposing your computer, stop and think if donating it is a feasible option. If it is in a working condition, and you are only thinking of disposing it because you want a newer model, then it is always advisable that you donate it. Contact a local school or an equivalent organization in your locality, and you will be surprised as to how happy they will be to take your old computer. You must have paid plenty of money for it, but you will feel happy that indirectly you will be helping someone progress in life. This is an excellent option for large organizations that want to update their models and are left with hundreds of older models to dispose.
I am sure the first thing that comes to your mind, when you think about disposal, is landfills. This was the practice used till a few years ago, in many countries, but the environmentalists are making all possible efforts to stop this, as it can be very harmful. The main reason behind this the lead that is present in the cathode ray tube monitors.
Fortunately, taking this situation to their advantage, many people have formed their own companies that deal with the disposal of computers. You just have to look up for the same on the internet and you will find plenty of them near you, instantly. You will have to pay them nominally for each device that you want to dispose and they will take care of everything. The main tasks that these companies undertake are:
- They take the ownership of your equipment, hence its disposal becomes their responsibility.
- The hard drives are sanitized and destroyed. So you can be assured that any data that you may have forgotten to delete, cannot be used anywhere else.
- The asset tags that may point to the original owner, are destroyed.
- All the equipment that cannot be reused are disposed, as per the Federal and State environmental laws.
Another environmental benefit of recycling electronic items is that recycling helps recover valuable materials from the older equipment, that can be used to make new products. This results in the reduction of greenhouse emissions, reduction in pollution, and saving the natural resources by extracting fewer materials from the Earth. Further, toxic materials like lead and mercury are removed before disposing the equipment in landfills which will ensure that these toxic materials do not seep into the water tables.
The manufacturers themselves have extensive recycling programs and you can approach them directly for the disposal process.
It can be hard to imagine that disposing a computer can be such a big issue. What is difficult for me to imagine is that the laptop for which I paid an arm and a leg, will end up in the bottom of a pit, few years from now, and the worst bit is that I will probably have to pay to ensure that the laptop ends up in the bottom of the pit.
Although, in the end it is my responsibility to ensure that when the laptop does end up in the bottom of the pit, every re-useable component has been removed, and all toxic materials have been removed, so that the laptop does not harm the environment in any way. It is the individual responsibility of every user to ensure safe disposal of obsolete models, else pretty soon we will not have a conducive environment in which we can use a computer.