Computer Waste

The Hunt for New Ways to Tackle Electronic Waste Disposal

Would you believe if someone told you that:

“The laptop you carelessly dumped years ago is responsible for the cognitive issues of your child today?”

Yes, improper electronic waste disposal is a significant health risk for everyone.

What is electronic waste?

Electronic waste is an umbrella term. Sometimes, we also refer to it as e-waste. It encompasses any electronic device that is no longer used. An outdated iPhone and a simple out-of-order electric bulb, both count as eWaste.

Statistics show that the entire world generates almost 40 million tons of e-waste every year. So, how to dispose of electronic waste safely is one of the most profound questions we must find answers to.

And the problem is not going away soon. Experts predict that the amount will rise to 3.4 billion tons by 2050.

Why is computer waste a major portion of electronic waste?

All types of electronic devices have different hazardous metals inside. It is not just laptops, computers, and mobiles, but so much more. Improper disposal lets these dangerous elements reach the soil. Hereafter, it can contaminate the nearby water resources, and pollute the environment.

However, desktop computers and embedded computers (mobile phones) are significant e-waste contributors. They mostly have shorter life spans. New models arrive within months, since technology evolves at a rapid pace. Consumers prefer to buy new models even if the old one is still working fine.

So, the volume of e-waste keeps increasing. One dangerous practice is the export of e-waste to developing countries. Those countries, in most cases, use improper recycling techniques. The results are hazardous chemicals that harm both workers and the environment. So, the world needs proper e-waste management protocols that must include two things. First is public awareness and second is computer recycling.

hardly 15% of e-waste is recycled every year.

Computer waste includes:

  • Laptops
  • Mobiles
  • Desktop Computers
  • Monitors
  • Hard drives
  • Circuit boards
  • Printers
  • Toners
  • Servers

E-waste is also a threat to data security

Businesses and individuals must find smart solutions for electronic waste. And a smart solution is one that ensures proper data removal from devices. Otherwise, sensitive information could end up in unauthorised hands. The best is to backup your data on cloud yourself and then delete it from the physical drive of your e-waste device. Many companies also offer data destruction services along with computer recycling services.

How to minimise e-waste?

Raising awareness is the first step towards e-waste minimisation. Businesses, governments, and educated individuals, all must play their role. Only their collaboration can ensure the public knows facts about electronic waste. People should know about the presence of valuable resources in their old computers and laptops. It may have gold, palladium, and copper.

So, try to buy as little electronic devices and gadgets as possible. Buy products with longer lifespans. Find out appropriate solutions for electronic waste. When you dispose of old computers, assure two things.

First thing is that your data is erased. Secondly, hand over your devices to a reputable electronic waste disposal company. Also, you can donate or repurpose your old equipment.

If your computer ends up in landfills, it will be exposed to heat during summer days. That leads to releasing toxic chemicals into the air and damaging the atmosphere. Prolonged exposure to those toxic chemicals can cause several health issues. Some of them are the following:

  • Respiratory complications such as breathlessness
  • Damage to the nervous system resulting in cognitive impairment
  • Cancer
  • Infertility
  • Kidney damage
  • Thyroid dysfunction

Number of elements for the recovery & recycling of metals found in e-waste

Sources of Noble metal Recovery/Recycling Total Inventions
Printed circuit boards 238
LEDs 109
Computers/Laptops 87
Wiring/cabling 85
Displays 78
Batteries 65
Telecom equipment 52
Capacitors 51
Magnetic Components 38
Switches/Sockets 35
Household Appliances 34
Integrated Circuits 18

Why traditional ways of electronic waste disposal are not sufficient?

Most traditional methods come with different cons.  Landfilling lets toxic materials reach the soil and seep into underground water. Acid Bath helps separate metals and also recycle them. But, it generates acid waste, which itself needs safe disposal. Incineration methods produce toxic gases.

Advanced computer recycling & electronic waste disposal

The technology landscape in the 21st century is rapidly evolving. With the passage of time, the question of what to do with the abandoned electronics is getting more and more tricky. Advanced computer recycling is the best answer so far. Though it also comes with a lot of challenges, it is good for both the environment and economy.

Both consumers and businesses have to keep up with technological pace. They have to buy the latest machines, so the only option for safe electronic waste disposal, other than selling or donating old devices, is to get them recycled for free.

Steps of advanced computer recycling

  1. Collection & Sorting – It is the initial stage where recycling facilities accept old electronics for safe disposal. Specialised e-waste collection programs are working for recycling computers and laptops.
  2. Data Security – It’s the primary concern when you recycle computer waste. Modern recycling facilities either physically destroy (shredding) the devices or use modern data-wiping methods before recycling.
  3. Material Recovery – Reuse of materials is the basic philosophy of recycling. Facilities recover precious motherboards and hard drives. They also have to take Cathode Ray Tubes out from monitors and screens. They have x-ray shields that contain 4 to 8 pounds of lead, mostly embedded in glass.
  4. Disposing Hazardous Material – Companies use specialised methods and the latest technologies for electronic waste disposal related to computers and other electronics.
  5. Precious Metal Extraction – Modern facilities use chemical leaching and electrochemical reactions to successfully recover precious metals like gold, silver, and palladium from electronics.

Emerging trends & technologies to handle computer waste

According to reports, only 12.5% of e-waste is recycled annually. This is a horrible gap. Let us review some new technologies that have what it takes to fill this gap and set the latest trends.


Robotics helps make the process easier and reduces the need for manual labour. Robots are great at disassembling electronics, sorting their materials, and extracting valuable materials like silver, copper, and gold. The new trend in electronic waste disposal is using robots for e-waste monitoring and sorting.

It is possible to program robots to differentiate between different metals. They can help a lot in the first and third steps of computer recycling. They can collect, sort, and recover reusable material. Also, there are e-waste monitoring systems that provide you with the amount of trash that needs to be gathered.

Buy back programs

It is an electronic waste disposal trend where consumers are paid for depositing their old electronic devices. Many companies would let you earn cash for old IT equipment like old computers, laptops, or desktops as per their condition.

Hard drive shredding

Data is one of the most critical assets in the 21st century for both businesses and individuals. If sensitive information falls into unauthorised hands, it can even lead to financial loss. So, electronic waste disposal techniques must ensure the safe removal of data. Shredding is a data destruction method that makes data completely irrecoverable. Make sure that your IT recycling partner provides shredding services.

Blockchain technology

It can make tracking e-waste disposal more manageable than ever. Blockchain is a decentralised digital ledger, we know that. We can use it to track e-waste from its source to its disposal securely. The technology makes the whole process transparent. Waste management companies use it to ensure proper disposal. It also minimises the risk of illegal export of e-waste to developing countries.

Artificial intelligence

AI & Machine Learning are used to optimise recycling processes. Developed countries are also using them to build biodegradable electronic devices. This helps reduce e-waste.

Putting it all together

Using cutting-edge technology for innovative electronic waste disposal comes with many benefits:

  1. Less e-waste ends up in the land refill.
  2. It recovers valuable materials. This leads to minimising the need for virgin materials, and conserving natural resources.
  3. It creates a new industry of e-waste management. As a result, there are a plethora of new job opportunities in today’s saturated market.

E-waste, in short, is a serious threat to the environment and public health. But, luckily, waste management companies and governments are now serious about handling this crisis. Individuals play their part, by returning products for recycling, and limiting the use. The future can be promising.