What is e-waste?
Anything that uses electricity and becomes redundant changes into e-waste. This includes all computers, entertainment electronics, mobile phones, household appliances, office appliances etc.
E-waste is a popular, informal name for electronic products nearing the end of their "useful life." Computers, televisions, VCRs, stereos, copiers, and fax machines are common electronic products.
Many of these products can be reused, refurbished, or recycled. Unfortunately, electronic discards is one of the fastest growing segments of our nation's waste stream. Just the phrase “e-waste” makes it sound like your favorite electronics can do a lot of damage, if disposed of in the incorrect manner. But just what exactly is so toxic about these devices that they account for 70 percent of the overall toxic waste that currently fills the landfills? In addition to valuable metals like aluminum, electronics often contain hazardous materials like mercury, lead and nickel. When placed in a landfill, these materials (even in small doses) can contaminate soil as well as drinking water. In 2005, approximately two million tons of e-waste ended up in landfills.
Let’s take it a step further and see what (and how much) toxic material is in your average electronic device.
CRT computer monitors contains a vast amount of lead, and there are other toxic elements in play when you’re recycling a PC or Mac. Many laptops have a small fluorescent lamp in the screen that contains mercury, a toxic material when inhaled or digested.
Computer circuit boards contain mercury, lead and cadmium. Circuit boards can also feature batteries made of mercury, and also contain mercury switches. Toxic materials make up only a small amount of the volume, but it does not take much lead or mercury to contaminate an area’s soil or water supply - Keep this in mind when you’re figuring out what to do with those old electronic devices.
Before there were plasma screen and liquid crystal display (LCD) tubes, we were watching our Rugby games and favourite sitcoms on cathode ray tubes (CRT). The CRT model provides room for all your switches and wires in a box behind the screen, but it also stores a lot of lead. Approximately 20 percent of CRTs are comprised of lead, and equals to between four and eight pounds per unit. Combine this with the fact that the FCC is going to require all televisions to run a digital signal by February 19, 2009, and we could be looking at a lot of lead headed for landfills.
Even the smallest amounts of lead can be a serious issue, and we’re talking about eight pounds per unit.
While your trusty cellular phone may not contain as much toxic material as larger electronic devices, its shelf life is only about a year and a half for the average consumer. With hip new products like the iPhone coming out all the time, it’s estimated there are over 500 million used cell phones ready for disposal. Cell phone coatings are often made of lead, meaning that if these 500 million cell phones are disposed of in landfills, it will result in 312,000 pounds of lead released.
However, the most hazardous component of the cellular phone is the battery. Cell phone batteries were originally composed of nickel and cadmium (Ni-Cd batteries). Cadmium is classified as a level 1 (human) carcinogen that can cause lung and liver damage. Alternatives contain the potentially explosive lithium, or the previously stated toxic material lead.
Donate your e-waste
The PC Graveyard generally accepts e-waste items that contain electronic circuitry, whether working or not. We cannot accept items that may dispense hazardous fumes, liquids or gases.
List of electronic waste accepted
• Answering Machines, Recorders
• CD/DVD Drives, VCRs, Recorders, Players
• Calculators (handheld, desktop, cash registers)
• Cameras (still or movie, digital or cartridge)
• Cell Phones/Blackberries/ Palm products
• Computer Backup Batteries
• Computers/Laptops/ Desktops
• Computer Wire/ Cables (all types)
• Dictation Machines, Recorders
• Dry Ink Toner Cartridges
• Empty Computer Cases
• Fax Machines
• Hard Drives
• Ink Cartridges (empty or full)
• Keyboards, Mice, Speakers
• Medical Monitoring Devices
• Microwave Ovens
• Miscellaneous Computer Parts
• Power Supplies
• Radios, Walkie-Talkies
• Televisions (consoles, HDTV, plasma, portable, etc.)
• Large Floor Model Copy Machines
The E-Waste we receive from participating businesses\individuals gets categorized into usable and non-usable components. 60% of the usable components are refurbished and sold to defray running costs, and the remaining 40% are used to build up computers which are donated to various organizations such as schools, churches, old age homes, community homes and charities.
We also recycle all non-usable components through various large recycling firms in the correct manner using the cradle-to-grave concept.