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What Are the Disadvantages of Computer Recycling?

Updated February 21, 2017

Recycling is good for the environment because it diverts materials such as glass, plastic and metal for reuse that otherwise end up at the dump. Computers, because they are constantly being improved and upgraded, wind up leaving businesses, schools and homes within years of purchase to be replaced by the newest models. While it can be a good idea to recycle computers, there are some disadvantages.

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Skilled workers are needed to break a computer down into component parts, sort them properly and test them for resale. They also must know how to strip valuable metals to be melted down and reused. Workers with these skills might not be available near the recycling centre, and untrained workers who process computers inappropriately risk inhaling toxic material.

Toxic Materials

Computers contain toxic substances, including cadmium, chlorine, mercury, bromine and lead. Besides possibly injuring recycling centre workers, these materials can get into the environment, polluting the air and water, if they aren't handled properly.

Preventing Donation

While an older computer might seem like junk to a person eager to get the latest model, recycling it means not donating it to poor people who could benefit from using it for education, job searches and to stay in contact with friends and family through e-mail and social media.

Identity Theft

If a person discards a computer before securely erasing the hard drive, unscrupulous workers at the recycling plant could access important personal information to use in identity theft crimes.

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About the Author

Julius Vandersteen has been a freelance writer since 1999. His work has appeared in “The Los Angeles Times,” “Wired” and “S.F. Weekly.” Vandersteen has a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from San Francisco State University.

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