There is absolutely no doubt that computers have helped the world in unimaginable ways, however, many of the components that are used in a computer are unsafe for the environment. It is unfortunate but computer recycling is not something that is universally applied; only a small percentage of computers and computer oriented peripherals are recycled. In an attempt to address this problem a number of ways have been developed to recycle computers.
A number of ways to recycle computers have developed out of necessity. There are many non-profit organizations that will gladly accept old computers and computer accessories, the organizations repair them if need be and donate them to low income families or small startup companies in their respective communities. Many companies that manufacture computers and accessories will buy back their own equipment as it ages and is replaced, this equipment is either reconditioned and resold or simply broken down for any useful parts.
Although there are companies that may purchase their old equipment or take accept it at trade in for a new model, there are also computer recycling centers that perform this necessary function. In the United States it is estimated that there are well over 1,000 municipalities that have established computer recycling centers. Residents of the community are invited to dispose of their old computers and other electronics at these centers; the center in turn sends the material in bulk to private recycling centers.
When the electronic apparatus finally arrives in a recycling center every device is broken down and the components are separated. Some components are saved, res-sold and re-used; the remainder is broken down for recycling into new, usable material. Plastics for example can be reground and used to produce new components. When it comes to computer recycling and the recycling of other electronics approximately 60 percent of the materials are reclaimed and recycled.
What is very important is that responsible recycling companies are chosen to do this work. There is numerous horror stories of companies sending one container load after another to underdeveloped countries where the equipment is taken apart and the valuable materials are removed in the worst possible conditions. In the United States the EPA have developed recycling standards such as R2 which is the Responsible Recycling Practices program which require companies involved in computer recycling to show that they meet standards for safe and responsible electronics and computer recycling.