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How Many of you, by a show of hands, have ever had to buy a new computer, because your old one was either out of date or not working?. What do you do with your old computer after it becomes out of date or unusable ?.
But have you ever thought about where those old computers go after they have been dumped?
They are going into landfills across the country leaking toxic chemicals into the ground. Some are going into storage, taking up space, where they can not be used. Others are being shipped off to foreign countries such as China to be dumped. It has now become easier and much cheaper to just dispose of old computer components than to upgrade. We have become a wasteful society.
You know we are so busy thinking ahead about the “latest in technology” when it comes to computers, but are we really thinking ahead in terms of “What we do with our out of date equipment?” What will happen if we continue to allow toxic waste to enter the ground from old computer components?
I had no idea how important it is to recycle our old computers. As I was researching I came across an article that made a very powerful impact on me. The article was called Toxic Computer Waste and it was written by Adam Robert Guha. Guha says and I quote, “One of the problems facing the computer industry today is the fact that so many computers are thrown out each day.”
He also says, “You might think that when you toss your old 286, it\'s gone for good. Think again -- the world has probably not seen the last of your ancient PC.”
Picture Found in Prelude to Programming: Concepts and Design by Stewart Venit
Guha states, “An recent investigation found that hazardous electronic waste is being exported to China. The area known as Guiyu in the Guangdong Province has been found to contain over 100,000 workers extracting materials from outdated computers, most of which come from the US.”
According to another article titled “Environmentalists document horrific computer dump in China,” by Brian Bergstein, says “now a report documents one such "cyber-age nightmare" — a cluster of villages in southeastern China where computers still bearing the labels of their one-time owners in America are ripped apart and strewn along rivers and fields.”
According to Adam Robert Guha, 50 to 80 percent of our American computer waste is going to China and other Asian regions for recycling. However, the people of China and other Asian countries are doing the recycling in an improper way that maybe harmful to their health. “One of the most toxic elements found in obsolete electronic devices is lead, which is known to cause damage to the central nervous system, kidneys, and slow down child brain development.” Yet the leaders of China continually let this to happen. Other elements such as cadmium, mercury, chromium, and barium are considered to be just as harmful as lead. “Things like the open burning of plastic and wires, melting or burning soldered circuit boards, are common.” Some are even going as far as to separate the material by their own bare hands. As Guha says, “hardly what you\'d think of when you think of computer recycling.”
Guha states in his article that ,“Circuit boards are being "recycled" by removing various components. Hundreds of workers put circuit boards on shallow grills that are heated from underneath. The boards are heated until the chips can be removed. The chips are then sent to acid chemical strippers for gold removal. Sometimes the chips are actually cleaned and made to look new so they can be sent to Guangzhou for use in computer "refabrication." The remaining circuit board is sent to a burning or acid recovery facility, where any leftover metals are removed. Often the only protection the workers wear at these facilities are rubber gloves.”
Any discarded Material ends up in their water supply. People of these foreign cultures have had to resort to importing their water from other areas because their own water has become very toxic and poisonous to drink.
Guha suggests, keeping your computers for extensive periods of time, to store your computer in a proper place and when the time comes that you no longer want your old computer, find a safe place to dispose your computer such as a recycling center, you can trust. You might think you can’t make a difference, because your old computer is only one in millions out there, but you can take the first step by properly recycling your old computers.
Another idea mentioned by Guha is “If you work at a school or office building that has many computers about to be thrown out, see what you can do to prevent that from happening.”
If you do find an organization that is about to throw out some old computers Guha suggests maybe giving them to charity. There are a lot of people in this world believe it or not that would love to have an older computer, but can’t afford one.
Guha says, “If you are in the position to do so, see if there are any computer manufacturers that might take the old computers in for remanufacturing (Dell will often do this; other companies may as well). You might also consider allowing employees to take home one of the old computers -- after everything has been erased, of course.
While this is only another temporary solution, keeping your older computers around longer will reduce the amount of waste being sent to Asia until the US bans the export of electronic waste.”
- End of Article
The State of New Jersey is cracking down on these businesses who are throwing out old computers. The Department of Environmental Protection of the State of New Jersey emailed the new regulations for the disposing of old computers.
I did not realize the severity when it comes to the disposing old computers. According to the Diskette Dumpster Website, I learned, since 1988, that it has been illegally against the law to dispose of any old computer components into dumpsters or landfills. If you are caught disposing your old computer illegally you can be fined and made to pay for the clean up which would wind up costing millions of dollars. Yet old computer components manage to find their way into landfills. In my opinion, it appears that these laws are not being enforced. It looks like that New Jersey is taking the first step into enforcing the environmental laws.
Something I recently found out is that color cartridges can be recycled. You can have them refilled at certain companies. The company I go to is located at my local mall. They are just like brand new again. It has saved me a great deal of money. To buy a brand new color cartridge it would cost me around $30.00. If I have a cartridge refilled, it only costs me half that, $15.00. I can practically have two cartridges refilled for the price of one. Check it out!
What is “Recycling of Old Computers”?Well it’s the process in which taking old computers and their parts, that are unusable, and making them reusable again.How does Recycling work?Old computers are taken to a Recycling Center in which they are examined and put towards making them reusable. They also make sure that any toxic waste is self contained, so that it doesn’t poison the earth.Who is doing research and/or something about the problem?The State of New Jersey has finally decided to start cracking down on its businesses. Making more regulations in which a business must go through in order to dispose of old computers. What is the future? Hopefully the future is that we will be more responsible and more resourceful when it comes to disposing of our old computers.Especially, when exporting to foreign countries such as China.
Diskette Dumpster Website http://members.tripod.com/diskettedumpster/whatido.htm
Environmentalists document horrific computer dump in China http://www.enn.com/news/wire-stories/2002/02/02262002/ap_46513.asp
Green Design Initiativehttp://www.ce.cmu.edu/GreenDesign/index.html
NJDEP Division of Solid and Hazardous Wastehttp://www.state.nj.us/dep/
Print Pal http://www.printpal.com
Toxic Computer Waste by Adam Robert Guhahttp://lowendmac.com/archive/02/0503.html
Picture of Ancient Computers on slide 6 is from Prelude to Programming: Concepts and Design by Stewart Venit Text Book
All other pictures are from Microsoft Office Design Gallery Live http://dgl.microsoft.com/