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Five Myths About Recycling Your Mac

March 7, 2011

Recycle Logo1) I’m Just One Person – What Does It Matter?

Time and again, we see examples of individuals really making a difference. The 7 year old who raises money to help the families of our Wounded Warriors. The cancer victim who walks with many others each year to raise research funds. The church members who individually volunteer their time at everything from soup kitchens to homeless shelters. Americans like to look on themselves as individuals but the fact is we work pretty well together when there’s a need. Recycling computers and other electronics is important and something we can all be part of. Whether you donate your old PowerMac G4, G5, iMac, eMac or Intel machine to a group like MacRecycleClinic to refurbish for others, take it to your local Apple, Best Buy or other store for recycling or your county or state recycling center, you make a difference each time you or your neighbor makes the decision to recycle rather than throw away.

2) My Computer Won’t Hurt the Environment If I Just Throw It Away

Actually – it will. Computers, like other electronics made today, contain hundreds and perhaps thousands of parts that can be recovered. Sitting in a landfill – decaying computers can do great harm. RecyclingSecrets.com puts it this way:

Obsolete computers contain significant amounts of recoverable materials including metals from wires and circuit boards, glass from monitors, and plastics from casings (fig. 1). For example, 1 metric ton (t) of electronic scrap from personal computers (PC’s) contains more gold than that recovered from 17 t of gold ore.1 In 1998, the amount of gold recovered from electronic scrap in the United States was equivalent to that recovered from more than 2 million metric tons (Mt) of gold ore and waste.2

Here’s more to ponder thanks to writer Cristen Conger – whose “How to E-Cycle” article for the How Stuff Works blog is an excellent read:

The EPA estimates that we sent more than 1.85 million tons of TVs, cell phones and computer products — a.k.a. e-waste — to landfills in 2006. And by 2015, a survey from Pike Research (via CNET) says that the global e-waste volume will reach 73 million tons. A bulk of that e-waste is also exported to poorer nations, including Ghana, Nigeria, and China. People sift through mountains of discarded electronics to mine the lead, gold, copper and other valuable metals housed inside them. Guiya, China, supports 5,500 businesses solely devoted to e-waste processing.

3) There’s No Value in the Old Computer I’m Replacing

Actually there’s value in every computer – precious metals, parts, memory, hard drives even batteries – that can either reused or recycled. MacRecycleClinic takes newer model Macs and works very hard to refurbish them so that they can continue to be used. The best thing to do with an old computer is to refurbish it when possible so that others can use it. Who might want to do that? Schools, non profit organizations, religious institutions that want to set up Mac Labs for those who don’t have computers. Low-income families who can’t afford a computer, students here and abroad who need a computer to complete their work. The families of our Wounded Warriors. The list goes on and on.

4) No One Else Wants This Old Thing

The real message here is that we don’t want your old computer to go into the dump. If we can repair it, let’s do it. If we can refurbish it, let’s get it to someone who really needs it. If we can’t do anything else, let’s strip what parts we can and recycle the rest in a responsible way. That’s got to be the mindset.

5) There’s No One Out There to Help Me Even If I Wanted To Get Rid of My Computer Responsibly

You are just so lucky! All across the United States (and in Europe and other countries) there are groups of computer users who are more than willing to help. Locally, as you know by now, MacRecycleClinic is here to help you on the Apple/Mac side. Project Reboot is available to help you on the PC side. There are user groups in many cities and states that you can contact, and as we’ve mentioned, there are specific recycling programs by private vendors or county governments. I’ve created a “Links to e-Cycle Sites” list here on the RecycleMac blog that can also help you. Check them out or  you can email or call us for help if you need it.  Please don’t think there isn’t someone out there willing to help if you want to recycle your computer!

  1. March 8, 2011 at 1:16 pm

    What other myths about recycling should we be talking about? Let us know!

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