Recycling Electronic Waste

That old computer you haven’t used for several years contains toxic metals like lead, mercury and cadmium as well as hazardous chemicals like brominated flame retardants and polyvinyl chlorides. If you sneak it into the trash, it’s likely to end up in a landfill where some scientists estimate it could take up to a million years to decompose.

There’s no reason for outdated electronics to end up in landfills, however, since most of their materials and components are completely recyclable. If you’re looking at that old computer and asking yourself, “Where can I recycle my electronics Toronto?” you’re on the right track.

Landfills and Electronic Waste

In 2013, more than half the electronic waste generated in the United States ended up in landfills. While electronic waste only accounts for 2 percent of all landfill waste, it accounts for 70 percent of toxic landfill waste. The toxic metals and hazardous chemicals this waste contains end up leaching into the environment. Lead is used in LCD display screens; lead builds up inside the bodies of people who are chronically exposed to it, and has been linked to neurological deficits in children. Mercury is found in motherboards and other printed board components; mercury can cause severe central nervous system and kidney damage.

Recycling Electronic Waste

Before you recycle your old electronics, make sure to erase any personal information from the hard drives they contain. Some recycling centers will actually remove your item’s hard drive and destroy it while you watch so that you can be absolutely certain your data won’t fall into the wrong hands.

Some recycling centers engage in the dubious process of shipping electronic waste to developing countries where it could end up in an Indian or Nigerian slum. Try to avoid those recyclers whenever possible. Find a recycling center that will deal with your electronic waste in a sustainable fashion that will not exploit third world labor to extract the few precious metals that used electronics often contain. Nonprofit recycling centers may even be able to issue you some sort of tax credit when you use them to dispose of your old electronics.

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