Think back to your first computer. Did you have an Apple IIe? Dell? IBM? Ever wonder what happened to it? Sadly, before regulations were enacted, most computers were simply tossed in the trash which then is buried in a landfill to never be seen again. While only 2% of the trash in US landfills is electronic, that 2% accounts for 70% of the toxic metal waste in landfills. This means that keeping electronics out of the landfill is very good for the environment, and thankfully with regulations, more and more electronics are being recycled properly.
Electronic waste has dangerous toxins such as dioxins, PCB's, cadmium, chromium, mercury, and radioactive isotopes that are toxic to people, animals and the environment alike. Such electronics are computers, monitors, printers, VCR's, and everything else with wires and circuit boards.
Currently, there is no Federal regulation standard for recycling any electronic waste. CRT's, (Cathode-Ray Tubes) which are found in monitors and TVs, are one of the most harmful electronic devices to the environment due to over 4 pounds of lead in each device. CRT's fall under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, and must be disposed of accordingly, however, not all states have regulations to enforce recycling of CRT's.
In 2001, Arkansas enacted the Arkansas Computer and Electronic Solid Waste Management Act requiring state agencies to manage and sell their surplus of computer equipment. Arkansas also established a Computer and Electronics recycling fund, and authorized the Dept. of Environmental Quality to regulate and/or ban the disposal of computer and electronic equipment in Arkansas' landfills.
In 2003, California enacted the California Electronic Waste Recycling Act calling for an advance recovery fee on the sale of certain electronic products, including CRTs, in which funds go towards managing recycling programs. And, in 2004, Maine passed Maine Public Law 661, an act to protect public health and the environment by providing for a system of shared responsibility for the safe collection and recycling of electronic waste, putting responsibility towards manufacturers to help in recycling.
These programs help keep electronics out of the landfill but many states do not have laws regulating the disposal of electronics. Even with laws, many people still dump their electronics illegally in landfills, either purposely or unknowingly. In 2007, there were 251 million PC's sold. That's millions of tons that are going to need to be recycled.
According to the EPA, 30-40 million PC's are ready for recycling every year, and that number is growing which means even more electronic trash to dispose in the future. Today, recycling companies such as Santamaria and Sons is taking on the growing need to recycle electronic waste properly. Recycling companies take computers and electronics for free or for a low handling fee. Your electronics stay out of the ground and are used to make new electronics for future use.