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We love our computers. Whether it’s for home, work or play, computers have become a part of our everyday lives.
But with rapid advances in technology, computers become obsolete really fast.
Most laptops and desktops should have a useful lifespan of about six to eight years. But with updated software and new models coming out all the time, most of these electronics only last about two years before they need to be replaced.
So what happens to computers and all their valuable parts when they’re no longer needed? The reality is a lot of that equipment still ends up in the trash.
Did you know that Americans trash around 130,000 old computers every day.
According to the U.N., we also know that 50 million tons of used electronics are generated throughout the world. What’s more, the amount of e-waste generated each year is expected to continue to grow in the years to come.
Allowing computers to go to the landfill is more than just a missed recycling opportunity. PCs contain more than a few hazardous materials such as mercury, cadmium, lead and PVC. This is one of the reasons why e-waste is such a global problem.
On the other hand, hundreds of thousands of computers and their parts find a second life all the time at recycling programs nationwide, and that’s what we want to focus on in this piece.
To preserve the environment and extend the lifespan of old computers, there are three main ways that old computers get disposed of: reuse, donations and recycling.
The reuse method
Reuse is usually the best way to handle computer parts.
There might still be some stigma attached to buying refurbished computers. But real computer geeks know that refurbished machines perform just as good as the new ones.
That’s because technicians are trained to test computers before determining how they are to be disposed. They will usually run a program that can tell them how old is the hard drive, how many times the computer has been turned on and the number of hours it’s been run.
A good technician will also know how to break down the computer and scour it for parts that could be used in other machines. Power supplies, solid state drives, monitors, and mice and keyboards can all be refurbished and used again in another device.
In other cases, refurbished PCs are taken out of the enterprise by an asset management company, an original equipment manufacturer (OEM), a leasing company or a refurbisher. The computers are then sold as-is either directly to customers, to resellers or to brokers who ship them around the world because all they require is being physically cleaned up and having a few parts fixed.
That’s why we decided to make sure ExcessBid was licensed as a certified Microsoft refurbisher. We understand that one of the biggest concerns in the secondary market is whether PCs are properly disposed of.
As a Microsoft refurbisher, we have to put in place strict environmental processes to address those recycling concerns.
As a result, customers can be reassured that the software installed on their refurbished computer is properly licensed and provides the same level of performance as they would expect when purchasing a brand-new machine.
The recycling method
Some manufacturers and stores offer other ways to get rid of old computers and find another use for the parts.
Best Buy has been conducting a take-back program at all its North American stores for years.
The company has seen some success by educating their employees and customers about the benefits of recycling and installing clearly marked kiosks at store entrances.
Typically, the take-back programs are free or at a small cost to consumers. Manufacturers shoulder the rest of the costs.
If you’re a consumer who decides to stop by to recycle an old item, you’re also able to shop for replacement materials and other products at a discount.
It turns into a win-win situation for everyone because manufacturers, stores and consumers who are concerned about reducing their impact on the environment can share a common goal of keeping materials out of the landfill.
We’re even starting to see more manufacturers like Apple make more of a commitment to stopping the cycle of e-waste at the source by announcing that they will be building more electronics with recycled materials.
Overall, that’s good news for old computer parts.
The donation method
The third way that computer parts get recycled is usually through donations.
Donating old computers not only helps countless people and organizations that wouldn’t have had access to technology otherwise. It is also another way to help the environment by keeping the materials in use longer.
The main ways that recyclers get donations include drop-off locations, having items mailed in or scheduling a pick-up. There are usually conditions placed on the equipment donated so that the recyclers can be reassured that the old computers are still in working condition.
Then, the recyclers wipe the data on the computers and find worthy groups to receive the donations. This is what Give Something Back does well in California.
The benefits of using recycled computer parts
As you can tell, recycling computers comes with a lot of good benefits.
Recycling is the environmentally friendly thing to do. So when you buy recycled computer parts or a refurbished device, you’re contributing to the solution of diverting as much waste as possible from the landfill.
Most of the refurbished computers in the market are comprised of parts from decent computers with few issues. If those parts were disposed of properly and refurbished, they help other computers run just as good as a new machine.
Also, on any given day, a refurbished computer will be less than half the price of an original computer.
With recycled computers, you really can’t go wrong.