If it’s the first time you’ve heard it, I’m happy to say it’s true. Electronics recycling, along with most other types of recycling is politically right, thus there are companies that will provide you with a Tax Deductible Donation Acknowledgment where you decide how much your donated items are worth by filling out the amount on the acknowledgment and then filing it with your taxes at the end of the tax year. That in a nutshell would mean that your participation in electronics recycling lowers your taxes! Not only that, but it helps you to garner more free space in your living quarters and costs you not one penny as most online electronics recycling companies provide free shipping.
One might ask, “what’s the attraction of used electronics other than channeling them into electronics recycling bins? Actually surplus electronics have extremely high cost differentials. A single repairable laptop can be worth hundreds of dollars, while an imploded cathode ray tube (CRT) is extremely difficult and expensive to recycle. This has created a difficult free-market economy. Large quantities of used electronics are typically sold to countries with very high repair capability and high raw material demand, which can result in high accumulations of residue in poor areas without strong environmental laws. Outside of electronics recycling, trade in electronic waste is controlled by the Basel Convention. The Basel Convention Parties have considered the question of whether exports of hazardous used electronic equipment for repair or refurbishment are considered as Basel Convention hazardous wastes, subject to import and export controls under that Convention. In the Guidance document produced on that subject, that question was left up to the Parties, however in the working group all of the Parties present believed that when material is untested, or contains hazardous parts that would need to be replaced as part of the repair process, then the Convention did apply.
Like virgin material mining and extraction, electronics recycling from electronic scrap has raised concerns over toxicity and carcinogenicity of some of its substances and processes. Toxic substances in electronic waste may include lead, mercury, and cadmium. Carcinogenic substances in electronic waste may include polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). Capacitors, transformers, and wires insulated with or components coated with polyvinyl chloride (PVC), manufactured before 1977, often contain dangerous amounts of PCBs.
Increased regulation of electronic recycling via electronic waste, and concern over the environmental harm which can result from toxic electronic waste has raised disposal costs. The regulation creates an economic disincentive to remove residues prior to export. In extreme cases, brokers and others calling themselves recyclers export unscreened electronic waste to developing countries, avoiding the expense of removing items like bad cathode ray tubes (the processing of which is expensive and difficult). This makes electronics recycling look bad.
Defenders of the trade in used electronics say that extraction of metals from virgin mining has also been shifted to developing countries. Hard-rock mining of copper, silver, gold and other materials extracted from electronics is considered far more environmentally damaging than true electronics recycling which is the recycling of those materials. They also state that repair and reuse of computers and televisions has become a “lost art” in wealthier nations, and that refurbishing has traditionally been a path to development.
With all of this said, we are pleased that America has strict standards relative to EPA regulations. The details regarding toxicity and electronics recycling in general seems like a bundle of technical dogma, or a high heap of electronic waste. That’s why I like to keep simple as in Electronics Recycling Lowers My Taxes!