Recycling Used Hardware in the U.S.: What You Need to Know
Up until just a few years ago, a surprisingly large amount of the goods recycled in the U.S. weren’t actually being processed here. Instead, these recyclables were shipped to China, where they were broken down into their constituent components, sorted, and repurposed to fuel the country’s booming manufacturing economy.
However, all of that has changed in the past year. In late 2017, China filed a notification with the World Trade Organization stating that it intended to discontinue the importation of many materials. According to the statement, much of the foreign waste imported by China has been tainted with various hazardous chemicals. The ban on importation was thus an attempt to address potential environmental contamination.
If you look in a recycling bin in a public location, it’s common to see non-recyclables mixed in with recyclable goods. Sorting through all of this in order to separate out the recyclables is time consuming and potentially hazardous. Now that China is no longer taking on the task, the recycling industry in the United States is scrambling to keep up.
Concerning Chemicals and Environmental Contamination
When it comes to recycling electronics and used computer hardware, businesses and consumers alike are often motivated by good intentions. For one thing, they want to keep these items out of the landfill. Additionally, it’s common knowledge that many computer parts contain potentially toxic materials which can leach into soil and groundwater if placed in a landfill environment. These chemicals need to be handled with care, which is why it’s important to ensure that you’re not simply tossing used computer hardware in with other general waste.
In fact, some of the component chemicals found in certain electronics and hardware have been banned by the European Union. This includes items containing lead, mercury, cadmium, hexavalent chromium, polybrominated biphenyls, polybrominated diphenyl ethers, and various phthalates.
Recycling Certification in the U.S.
Given that many used computer parts and other electronics contain potentially hazardous chemicals, recycling them is a complicated process. Here in the U.S., it’s difficult and time consuming for recycling facilities to obtain the necessary R2 certification in order to be able to recycle electronic goods.
How to Recycle Used Computer Hardware
All of this raises the question: how and where can you recycle used computer hardware?
Sustainable Electronics Recycling International maintains a searchable database of R2 certified recyclers. By searching the SERI database, you can attempt to locate attempt to locate a recycler in your area that’s capable of processing your electronics and used hardware.
In some instances, it’s possible to find a recycling facility which will accept your electronic items for little or no cost. Some of these facilities only serve consumers with a small number of items to be recycled, while others are designed to meet the needs of businesses with larger amounts of recyclable hardware.
But, considering the introduction of international importation bans on both foreign waste (as has happened in China) and goods containing certain harmful chemicals (as enacted by the European Union), there’s another important question to consider: will recycling companies raise their prices in the coming years?
Not long ago, it was easy to ship large amounts of recyclables to China for cheap processing. But given that this is no longer the case, it may just be a matter of time until recycling facilities in the United States have to start charging significantly more for the services they provide.
Sell Your Used Hardware to IGS
When purchasing new hardware to replace an existing system, many businesses assume that their used hardware is devoid of any value. However, it’s often the case that older equipment can be refurbished.
At Integrity Global Solutions, we routinely purchase used hardware from customers nationwide. This includes items such as servers, hard drives, memory, processors, routers, switches, and more. Click here to contact IGS about selling your used hardware.
When you sell your used hardware to IGS, there’s also no need to worry about what might happen to component parts that aren’t salvageable. Here at IGS, we’re proud to work with Enviro-Chem to ensure that any failed or unusable hardware is properly recycled.
Want to find out more about selling your used hardware? Click here to contact IGS now.