The Precious Metals In Your Computer

How many of us have thrown away or donated an old computer without a second thought to what you might be giving away? Probably most of us, and it’s a good bet to say that very few of us knew that there is a decent amount of precious metals sitting in laptops and computers. Because of the value of metals such as gold and silver, today there is a growing world wide business in recycling old computer and laptop parts.

Immediately people begin thinking, “what is silver worth?” The truth about computer recycling is far more serious than the value of the individual recycled elements.

Aside from the gold and silver in your laptop itself, the batteries contain a number of toxic chemicals and rare earth metals. People improperly disposing of old, unused or outdated laptop computers is becoming a major problem for many cities around the world where laptop computers may only have a two or three year lifespan for the average user.

In Illinois they have enacted an E-waste law that prevents people form mixing personal waste with E-waste that is punishable by fines of up to $7000 or $1000 per day for failing to remedy the situation. Also, residential consumers can be given on the spot administrative fines of $50 if they are caught breaching the law.

The federal Environmental Protection Agency has also taken to fining companies that don?t comply with regulations about safely disposing of the E-waste. Larger companies have taken to “offshoring” the problem by exporting old unwanted technology to smaller, less prosperous countries like Vietnam and one case even involved Hong Kong, no doubt the ultimate destination was likely China. In these cases the EPA sought hefty fines of $31,500 in the Vietnam case and $37,500 per day in the case relating to the export to Hong Kong.

Many local governments are now taking the lead in providing dedicated recycling programs for old electronic and computer equipment. The programs are delivering two unique benefits: first of all, the local government is helping reduce the amount of E-Waste that gets into the system by having residential consumers pre-sort it for them. The second benefit is that with minerals like Gold and Silver being used in noticeable quantities, the recycling programs can actually get a reasonable return for the properly collected minerals.

Most major computer manufacturers like Dell and Hewlett Packard now have computer equipment recycling programs available to home and corporate customers. The will pick up, recycle and properly dispose of any machine that you have upon purchasing a new computer at no additional cost. They’ll also make sure that the computer is properly stripped of any personal or private data which is a huge concern for many people and a reason why so many computers are never disposed of.

If you are like many people who are on their third or fourth generation computer at home, there is a very strong possibility that your previous machines are sitting idly in a room in your house collecting dust. The machines have plenty of valuable metals like Silver and Gold inside them, but the truth is, there are many other rare earth metals or toxic chemicals inside the device that really need to be properly disposed of for the long term benefit of the planet.

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