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Recycling a Computer Of the estimated 10 million computers that are probably put out to pasture every year about 15 million find their final resting place in landfills while 75 million sit on shelves collecting dust according to one study ILSR As more computers go into obsolescence that annual total is expected to rise The Institute for Local Self-Reliance ILSR estimates that many American companies dispose of up to one-third of their computers every year While computers typically will take up less than 1 percent of a landfills volume they contain toxic materials Computers are not hazardous waste when theyre in use says Chris Beling solid waste project manager with the EPA in Boston But if theyre ground up crushed or burnt in incinerators they expose elements including lead phosphorus cadmium and mercury to the air or perhaps into ground water Although businesses are prohibited from land filling their computers residential users arent and they account for the large number of toxic contributions to landfills So what can be done with them The most obvious way to recycle your computer is to sell or consign it A number of computer brokers have started in the last five years matching people with used computers There are even Web sites on the Internet to match needs with computers Hyde Platt p18 Additionally a number of groups around the country take computers and donate them to schools organizations or low-income individuals either in the US or Third World countries Some companies only accept working models and others are willing to repair them before giving them away However if a computer needs repairs or its from a prehistoric era and too old to sell there are other options An increasing number of companies are diverting aging pcs from being buried by demanufacturing them or breaking the components down into metal plastic and glass There are a
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