Given the number of components, the size of components, the inclusion of hazardous material and the compact construction of many products, electronic equipment disposal gets complicated—and expensive—fast.
Without the appropriate tools and training, it’s not possible to recycle e-waste. Special facilities are often needed, and they’re not affordable for every community. E-recycling centers are harder to access, and some businesses and organizations don’t always have the funds for shipping their appliances and old devices to a location capable of performing the work.
In other cases, components pose a risk to people or the environment. Alternative electronic disposal methods are needed, such as ExcessBid.com, where surplus electronics equipment is passed on to new owners.
Even broken items can be sold for parts. In fact, according to the EPA, landfills are veritable treasure chests. One ton of circuit boards contains up to 800 times more gold than a metric ton of ore—proof that recycling e-waste makes sense enough to invest in the facilities to “mine” it.
3 Types of Electronic Equipment That Can’t Be Recycled
When at all possible, businesses should sell or donate electronics instead of throwing them out. Surplus Service, an award-winning San Francisco Bay Area e-recycling business, has spent years coming up with solutions for our customers who need help with managing their electronic equipment disposal. However, there are those select products that can’t be recycled safely. Consider the limitations of the following:
1. Microwave Ovens
Recycling centers don’t often take microwave ovens, despite these appliances being a wealthy source of spare parts. These components hold electric charges well past their last date of service and can deliver lethal shocks to those who touch them in the wrong places.
2. Refrigerators, Freezers, Air Conditioners & Dehumidifiers
Certain appliances—from fridges to deep freezers—contain Freon, otherwise known as a collection of chemicals known as chlorofluorocarbons. Appliances sometimes develop slow leaks, however, the body processes these chemicals quickly and fairly easily in small doses. Tests show no sign of carcinogenic properties and they aren’t linked to any long-term health problems.
Problems occur during direct exposure to large amounts—such as the type of exposure that might occur while taking an appliance apart. This leads to cardiac problems, including heart attacks. Because of the dangers involved, these electronics must have Freon extracted prior to dismantling them. Unfortunately, that is a process many recycling facilities don’t have the equipment to handle.
3. Non-Decontaminated Medical Equipment
Medical equipment that hasn’t been properly sterilized can cause infection, especially in developing countries where a lot of used or donated medical equipment gets sent. This is why equipment used in common medical procedures, such as general surgery and endoscopy, need to be decontaminated before being reused. If they aren’t decontaminated according to World Health Organization standards, then the equipment can’t be recycled.