Recycling of electronic components
We have already discussed here on the blog the importance of recycling computers and other electronic waste. Although these materials have an incredible potential for recycling, unfortunately, due to improper disposal, thousands of precious parts end up in landfills. Ah, and we are not kidding when we call them precious parts! This is because, inside the computers, there is a piece full of gold, the motherboard! Dell is extracting this gold, recycling it and transforming it into precious jewels!
Finding e-waste collection points is not always an easy task. However, Dell, a US computer hardware company, is trying to do its bit. To draw people’s attention to the effort the brand is making to recycle its garments, it created a line of 14-karat and 18-karat gold jewelry from recycled gold after it was removed from motherboards.
When we use the word garbage, we often associate it with something negative that is no longer useful. But with recycling processes, it is possible to take advantage of different materials to create new products, and as we have seen, sometimes the end result can be something beautiful and precious!
How to recycle computers that no longer work
On more than one occasion we have talked about the challenge of e-waste. In addition to the polluting potential of some components, we must also consider the precious metals (and some not so precious) that are used in their manufacture and end up in the landfill.
If the scale is appropriate and the economics of the shift help, the extraction of metals such as gold and silver from old computers and phones becomes the primary reason for general hardware recycling.
The remaining components demand a much more complex process. After removing each metal part from the boards, the result is melted down, creating an alloy of copper, silver and gold. This alloy is cut into sheets, and with the help of an electrolytic system, the copper is extracted first, then the silver, leaving the pure gold at the end. Most likely, the recovered metals go directly back to the production line to create new computers, although the video mentions “gold salt”. Needless to say, if anyone wants to reproduce this on a smaller scale they will have to be very careful with acid handling, and of course patience… but it works.
Recycling of electronic circuits
The best way to dispose of electronic devices is to go to the Punto Limpio in your city. The Punto Limpios are spaces offered by the state for the collection of a wide variety of waste. The citizens usually use them to take their household appliances; but, they do not know that they can also leave there other devices such as mobiles, computers, CD’s or ink cartridges.
There are fixed and mobile clean points. As their name indicates, the former are located in a specific place that is normally far from the center of the cities. The latter have the same function; however, they move around different areas of the cities to facilitate the collection of waste from the population.
In this line, there is a website that tells us which is the nearest collection point after entering the type of waste and the city and area in which we live. These sites collect waste such as: cell phones, computers, televisions, refrigerators, washing machines, CDs, batteries, ink cartridges, etcetera. Here you can consult the complete list, which also includes glass, metals, paper and packaging.
Parts that can be recycled from a computer
We all love to buy new parts, plug them all in, and feel like a mission has been accomplished as we watch a new system fly before our eyes. But if we’ve felt exactly that with our current computer, why not do it again? Injecting new life into our system doesn’t require as much as many may imagine. While hardware upgrades and software changes may fall into the equation, the truth is that what is most needed to reuse hardware is the time to plan and carry out such a project.
As mentioned in the introduction, the feeling of buying new hardware, removing its packaging and installing it is extraordinary. Those who have the ability to assemble the equipment with their own hands have that “extra” present in so many other professions, but buying it and seeing it working represents a more than important achievement, not only economically, but also personally. A computer is a good that will last for a certain period of time, and it must provide enough features to justify the initial investment.