Section 6.3: Proper Disposal Procedures

The proper disposal procedure for computer equipments such as batteries, monitors, circuit boards, and printers is very important because they contain toxic heavy metals such as lead, mercury, and cadmium, which are hazardous to environment. They should not be thrown away in trash because if they end up in landfills they can leach into soil and water. This may not only pollute lakes and streams and make them unfit for drinking, but also contaminate it for the life fishes and supporting wildlife. They can cause high blood pressure, iron deficiency in blood, liver diseases, and nerve and brain damage in animals.

The EPA (Environment Protection Agency) has created a WasteWise program, which is free to join. It provides its members a technical assistance team that can help the members to conduct a waste audit and reduce waste.

If possible the computers should be reused. They should be sold or donated to other organizations that can use them. Donating computers to charitable organizations and schools also provides tax benefits to companies. Recycling is the best option for computers that are extremely old or broken.

Some of the most common electronic components should be recycled as follows:

  • Recycling CRT (cathode ray tube) monitors: The disposal of colored CRT monitors is a great environmental concern because they contain approximately four to five pounds of lead, which is approximately 27% of the weight of a CRT. The monitors should be sent to recycling centers. Some states have voluntary recycling programs. The local municipalities are also in charge of setting up convenient drop-off locations for computers.
  • Recycling batteries: The batteries should also be disposed off with utmost care and safety. They contain chemicals, which can be very hazardous to the environment. The used batteries should not be stored together to be disposed off in a group. Because even the dead batteries have some power left and a set of exhausted batteries can emit a charge that can cause them to ignite and bang together. The batteries can ignite, rupture or leak, causing damage to you as well as the electronic item. To dispose the batteries, you can send them for recycling centers. Many automotive stores that sell batteries also accept batteries for recycling.
  • Disposing of circuit boards: The circuit boards also contain lead in their soldering. Therefore they should also not be thrown in a regular trash. They should be taken to local hazardous waste disposal site for disposal.
  • Disposing ink toner and cartridges: The ink or toner cartridge contains a substance that is hazardous. Therefore they must be managed as hazardous waste when they are disposed. To dispose of printer toner cartridges you should remove the toner or the ink cartridge from the printer to facilitate the process of disposal. The plastic container of the printer toner cartridges can be utilized well and enhance the safety of the environment.
  • Disposing chemicals: The chemicals such as cleaning alcohol that are used to clean computer components are not too hazardous for environment. However, for each chemical, the MSDS for the product should be referred to find out if any special disposal method is required for their disposal.