Recycling Tech: What You Need to Know

When it comes to recycling, there are a lot of people who don’t think you can recycle your old tech, such as phones and laptops. However, this is not true. Across the county you are able to recycle your old laptops, PC’s and phones quite easily and often companies will pay you for the privilege. The recycling process is quite simple as well, with individual parts being processed in different ways. Here is some more information on how tech is recycled, so that next time you are at the recycling centre, you know that your old tech is welcome there as well.

Plastic and Metal

Usually, the plastic and metal found in tech is sent off to be fully recycled. It can be used to create new plastic bottles, or even turned into components for a new piece of technology. The metal goes through a similar process and is often turned into new sheets of metal, steel, or other metal products. Before this happens, however, the metal is placed through a shredder and fully separated.

Glass and Mercury

The glass used in computers and television is known as CRT glass. The major issue with this is that it contains several hazardous materials that pose a threat to both humans and the environment. One of these is lead, which is toxic for humans and attacks the nervous system. In a large monitor that uses CRT glass, there can be up to 4KG of lead, which is a huge amount.

The glass is actually sent to Australia most of the time, where it goes through special treatment and all of the toxins are separated. Once this is done, it is reused as glass for a new monitor or television. The glass from your smartphone is also reused, often in new phones.

As you may know, Mercury is highly poisonous, even in very small amounts. It is easily absorbed through soil and eaten by sea creatures, which can cause it to contaminate the food chain. However, the components that contain Mercury are carefully sent to recycling centres that are run by the EPA. Here, they are able to separate the Mercury and use it both in new technology, but also items like insulation and fertiliser.

Circuit Boards and Hard Drives

Circuit boards are sent to specialist smelting centres where they are carefully assessed and the precious metals are removed. Once removed, these are reused, often in new circuit boards.

Hard drives are shredded before being sent to an aluminium foundry to be made into ingots of said metal. Often they are used in cars or other motorised vehicles.


Most batteries are sent to specialist plants for recycling. One such plant is in France, where the strict EU rules regarding the recycling of batteries are fully adhered to. Excess plastic is removed from the battery and the metals are separated as well. Once separated, the metals are then placed into a smelting pot where cobalt, cadmium, steel, and nickel are all retrieved. These are often reused in new batteries, or used in the production of stainless steel.

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