What is the safest way to dispose of old computers? (3 disadvantages) 

This blog will explain the safest way to dispose of old computers. Other related aspects covered would be: 

  • Is disposing of old computers a sustainable choice?
  • What happens when computers are discarded without environmental consideration?
  • Are computers biodegradable?
  • What is the appropriate way to deal with e-waste such as old computers?
  • What are other options to deal with computer waste?
  • FAQs

What is the safest way to dispose of old computers?

The best way to dispose of computers is to not dispose of them but rather recycle computers. This will lead to environmental benefits such as better waste and resource management. Environmental anomalies such as GHG emissions, and soil and water pollution will also be avoided. 

Also, computers can be reused and repurposed in a number of creative and innovative ways that can be a better option than recycling. Because there will be little to no use of energy. 

Computers come in the category of electronic waste which is made from harmful and non-biodegradable materials such as plastics or metals. 

If computers are discarded without environmental considerations, they will end up in landfill where they can cause soil and water pollution while also affecting life nearby (including humans too). 

What is an appropriate way to deal with e-waste such as old computers?

Before that, one needs to ensure that the computer can not be reused in any way. If that possibility is ruled out, then the best way to deal with computer waste is to recycle it. 

Recycling is defined as the reusing of any product after changes and modifications to it. Recycling is much better than production from scratch because there is less strain on the raw materials.

Also, there is a decreased use of energy because the computers will not have to be made from scratch. This will result in benefits to both the economy and the environment. 

The major source of energy in most of the production facilities is non-renewable resources which mostly rely on the burning of fossil fuels. When more energy is used, there is an increased burning of fossil fuels to meet the demand. 

This releases harmful gases such as carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, methane, et cetera into the atmosphere. These gases are called greenhouse gases that result in environmental anomalies such as global warming, the greenhouse effect, change in weather patterns, deforestation, loss of life et cetera. 

Recycling is a way to ensure that these effects are reduced and mitigated. However, the recycling of computers is not as simple as recycling paper or cardboard. 

The main reason behind it is that the recycling of computers first requires disassembling all the parts and components. This takes time as well as energy. Therefore, it is possible to have an LCA (life-cycle analysis) of computer recycling to optimise the process as much as possible. 

To ensure the recycling of computers, you may either discard the computer in recycling bins or transport them to the nearest recycling facility that accepts electronic waste. 

What are some other ways to deal with computer waste?

Other than recycling, there are also options available that are effective and sustainable as well. These include: 

  • Reusing old computers
  • Repurposing old computers
  • Trading in old computers 
  • Upgrading old computers
  • Donating old computers 

These are some of the effective yet sustainable approaches that can be adopted to deal with old computers. Reusing and repurposing, in a way, are better than recycling because there is decreased use of energy in this case. 

You can also opt for upgrading computer components. That way, you will not need to dispose of entire computers. This can save you money as well as the environment. In that regard, trading in is also an option. There are centres that accept old computers and give you new computers with compensation. 

You can also go for donating old computers because it is very likely that what you deem as unimportant can be extremely important and valuable for others. Let us therefore, explore these options in more detail. 

Reusing old computers

Just because a computer has become slow, it does not mean that it can not be used for any purpose. Perhaps, it may be a good option to reuse an old computer for a slower or less exhaustive task such as simple word processes or printing et cetera. However, you need to be careful that this will consume more energy and therefore, will impact the environment. 

Repurposing old computers 

As said, old computers can also be repurposed. This can happen either by you or someone else. For example, your slow old computer can be valuable for someone else. 

Therefore, you can either sell or donate your old computer and that will be a good way to repurpose it too. This way, you ensure that computer waste (e-waste) is reduced since it is non-biodegradable and has the capacity to affect the environment greatly. 

Trading in old computers

As said, a computer that you may deem worthless might be of extreme value for someone else. Therefore, you need to connect it to the right buyer. And, you do not have to do it yourself. There are professional centres that can take care of this. 

This is known as trading in old computers where you give old computers and either buy new, upgraded ones or get recompense for it. 

Upgrading old computers

Upgrading old computers by the installation of the latest chips and equipment is one smart and innovative way to efficiently reuse a computer without compromising on its quality or effectiveness. 

Most computers in today’s time come with the option of upgradation where you can upgrade its equipment such as processor or battery so that its life may be enhanced and e-waste may be reduced. 

Is disposing of old computers a sustainable choice?

When it comes to disposing of computers, the term ‘safe’ becomes obsolete. The primary reason behind it is that there are a number of ways in which disposing of computers will not only harm the environment but will also cause trouble to almost all forms of life. 

Computers are made from a number of materials. The most common materials used in computers include plastics, metals, and silicone. There may be other materials too such as gold, palladium, and other rare earth metals. 

Most of these materials are made from the derivatives of fossil fuels. What this means is that when computers are disposed of, there is an addition of non-biodegradable waste in the environment. Such waste has a lot of negative impacts on life and the environment. 

More than that, computer waste will also put a burden and pressure on waste management systems. Already there is a production of more than 2 billion tons of waste globally. Out of which, more than 50 million tons is electronic waste. 

Also, there is this issue that when computers are disposed of, heavy metals and toxic materials may seep into the ground and cause environmental issues including soil pollution and effect on life. 

Therefore, it is concluded that it is not sustainable to simply throw away old computers. There are a number of options available that would be more sustainable than just simply throwing away computers in garbage dumb. 

What happens when computers are discarded without environmental consideration? (3 disadvantages of discarding computers) 

When computers are thrown without any environmental consideration, there are a number of negative and degradative effects on the environment, life and humans as well. Let us explore all of these in slight details 

Effect on the environment 

When computers are thrown in an unsustainable fashion, there are a number of degradative effects on the environment. The primary reason behind it is that computers are made from toxic and non-biodegradable materials such as metals and plastics. 

Let us take the example of plastics to understand the stance better. Plastic is a synthetic polymer that is made from the derivatives of fossil fuels. When plastic is disposed of, it may require more than a thousand years to degrade in a natural setting. 

The problem is not just with the degradation, the problem also is with the environmental problems caused by plastics. When non-biodegradable materials such as plastic or metals are disposed of in an unsafe manner, this can translate very badly into the environment.

The result? A plethora of environmental anomalies such as deforestation, soil erosion, soil infertility, species endangerment, loss of life, ozone depletion, and global warming. These are some of the effects caused when non-biodegradable waste from computers is thrown away recklessly. 

Effect on life

The problems generated by the disposal of computers do not only affect the environment. The impacts are also expanded to various forms of life. 

The primary reason behind this is that computers are made of many toxic and heavy metals. Once in landfills, these metals may seep into the soil. This will degrade the soil quality and will also affect the associated life. 

Once these heavy metals enter the soil ecosystem, there will be negative and degradative effects on plants. These may include: 

  • Altered water balance
  • Nutrient assimilation
  • Inhibition of growth
  • Altered photosynthesis
  • Decreased biomass
  • Wilting 
  • Plant death 

Since plants and trees are the primary producers, these effects will be reciprocated on all the different levels of food webs and food chains. 

Eventually, the aquatic ecosystem will also be affected and various health complications will also arise for aquatic flora and fauna. These complications may include bioaccumulation, toxicity, infertility, thinning of eggshells, hormonal dysfunction et cetera. 

Effect on humans

The harmful effects of materials present in computers which mainly are non-biodegradable materials and heavy metals are not just limited to animals. Humans are also severely affected. 

As per a research done on school children, a total of 300 participants were assessed to see what is the impact of electronic waste on their health. It was seen that more than 70% of the children were affected with conditions such as blood abnormalities, respiratory issues, and developmental complexities. 

Literature suggests that the following are the health complications that are caused by the accumulation of toxic metals and non-biodegradable waste exposure : 

  • Cancer
  • Developmental issues
  • Birth defects 
  • Hormonal changes
  • Respiratory syndromes
  • Compromised immunity 
  • Gastrointestinal issues
  • Kidneys’ dysfunction 
  • Neurological complications 

Are computers biodegradable?

Biodegradability may be defined as the breakdown of waste by life. By life, it included microbes such as bacteria, fungi, algae, yeast et cetera. 

Biodegradability is an important factor to determine if something is eco-friendly or not. Sadly, in this case, computers are not biodegradable. 

Computers are made from substances such as metals, silicone, and plastics. Most of them are artificial polymers or synthetic polymers that are made from the derivatives of fossil fuels at the expense of environmental anomalies such as global warming and greenhouse gas emissions. 

Computer waste is regarded as electronic waste. It may take many hundreds of years for electronic waste to be degraded by life and in natural conditions. 

Conclusion

It is concluded that the best way to dispose of computers is to not dispose of them but rather recycle computers. This will lead to environmental benefits such as better waste and resource management. Environmental anomalies such as GHG emissions, and soil and water pollution will also be avoided. 

Also, computers can be reused and repurposed in a number of creative and innovative ways that can be a better option than recycling. Because there will be little to no use of energy. 

Computers come in the category of electronic waste which is made from harmful and non-biodegradable materials such as plastics or metals. 

If computers are discarded without environmental considerations, they will end up in landfill where they can cause soil and water pollution while also affecting life nearby (including humans too). 

Frequently Asked Questions: What is the safest way to dispose of old computers?

What type of waste is computer waste?

Computers come in the category of electronic waste which is made from harmful and non-biodegradable materials such as plastics or metals.

Can computers be recycled?

Yes, computers can be recycled. It is not only possible but also recommended. 

References

  • Kiddee, P., Naidu, R., & Wong, M. H. (2013). Electronic waste management approaches An overview. Waste management, 33(5), 1237-1250.
  • Osibanjo, O., & Nnorom, I. C. (2007). The challenge of electronic waste (e-waste) management in developing countries. Waste management & research, 25(6), 489-501.
  • Kang, H. Y., & Schoenung, J. M. (2005). Electronic waste recycling: A review of US infrastructure and technology options. Resources, Conservation and Recycling, 45(4), 368-400.
  • Abdelbasir, S. M., Hassan, S. S., Kamel, A. H., & El-Nasr, R. S. (2018). Status of electronic waste recycling techniques: a review. Environmental Science and Pollution Research, 25(17), 16533-16547.
  • Babu, B. R., Parande, A. K., & Basha, C. A. (2007). Electrical and electronic waste: a global environmental problem. Waste Management & Research, 25(4), 307-318.
  • Crucial. How to dispose of old computers. Retrieved from: https://www.crucial.com/articles/pc-users/computer-disposal-how-to-recycle-old-computers

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