As e-waste becomes more ubiquitous, some companies are finding ways to make money out of all the trash. E-waste includes electronic goods which have components of precious metals, wires with copper, and plastic cases that can be ground up into reusable material.
With electronic goods becoming cheaper and easily available, the use of these electronic items is dramatically increasing and so is the number of electronic items thrown away. Electronic items are junked long before they reach the end of their life cycle.
According to a report by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, the average PC (not including the monitor) is typically 40 percent steel, 30 percent to 40 percent plastic, 10 percent aluminum and 10 percent other metals, including copper, gold, silver, cadmium and platinum. Each cathode ray tube monitor, if not functional, can still produce four to six pounds of lead.
According to the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency, approximately two million tons of used electronics, including computers and televisions, are discarded each year.
There is however a vast number of computers that are just taking up storage space and becoming less valuable. Studies estimate that 1.5 million computers are discarded in Texas annually, with roughly 162,000 recycled, leaving more than 1.3 million units assumed to be stored or sent to landfills.
Companies like Monitex in Grand Prairie, Texas have made it their business to finding components that can be reused especially cathode ray tubes that are in good enough shape for resale and reuse. The cathode ray tube or CRT of a monitor has an average lifetime of more than 15 years but is discarded in less than five years, according to Monitex president Ferris Segovia (News - Alert). These CRTs are then reused in cheap television sets sold in Asia, Africa and South America.
Monitex accepts individual drop offs but most of its 80,000 items of technology trash per month comes from corporate renovations.
Workers, with the help of a few power tools, separate the keyboards and processors from the monitors. About five percent of the monitors are in such good shape that they can be resold as is, Monitex officials said. About 65 percent have CRTs that are still good enough to refurbish. The remaining 30 percent are broken down into their parts - glass and metals and recycled as raw materials.
Nitya Prashant is a contributing editor for TMCnet. To read more of Nitya’s articles, please visit her columnist page.