A+: Recycling Batteries, Solvent and Toner

Nothing lasts forever in the computer business. Whether it is a worn out real-time clock battery, an obsolete monitor, or an empty toner cartridge, there’s a right way to get rid of it or to recycle it. Generally, the more “durable” a computer-related item is, the more likely it is that it should be recycled when it reaches the end of its useful life, instead of simply being discarded.

Recycling is important and can have legal ramifications for a company. In this section you learn the proper way to recycle toner cartridges and batteries and how to dispose of chemical solvents, monitors, and other computer hardware. When dealing with computers, power, networking, and anything else in IT, remember to put safety on the top of your priority list. Computer equipment is not a toy and should be treated with care. Another issue to consider is how you dispose of your technology, since this will affect the environment. Most companies have procedures in place that specify what to do with computers, monitors, batteries, and other technology equipment after it has outlived its usefulness to the company.

Batteries no longer contain significant amounts of mercury, a highly toxic chemical that can cause memory loss, vision impairment, and other health issues in high exposures, but today’s batteries still contain chemicals that should not go into landfills.

Depending on the type of battery that you have replaced, you might find more than one option for disposal of the old ones:

    • Some stores have drop-off bins for watch and calculator batteries; the popular 3.0V lithium CR-2032 or equivalent battery used on motherboards to maintain the CMOS and RTC settings could be disposed of this way.

    • Hardware stores and home centers often feature drop-off bins for Ni-Cd, NiMH, or Li-ion rechargeable batteries, such as those found in computer, PDA, or cell phone power supplies or power tools.

    • To recycle alkaline or other types of dry or wet-cell batteries, including batteries used in UPS battery backup systems (which often contain lead), as well as rechargeable, watch, and calculator batteries, contact companies that specialize in safe battery disposal or recycling. To locate companies, check your local telephone directory or perform a web search using search terms such as “battery recycling.”

Toner cartidges and containers can contain toxics, and many manufacturers of laser toner and inkjet printer cartridges want you to recycle the empty cartridges; these companies provide postage-paid envelopes or mailing labels to help you return the empty product.

Otherwise, contact local rebuilders of laser toner or inkjet cartridges. Some of these companies might pay you a small fee per empty toner cartridge for popular printer models or might offer other inducements.

When you’ve used the contents of a cleaning product container, check the label for container-disposal instructions. Depending on the product, you might
• Be able to recycle the plastic container in household recycling; this is most often true for citrus-based and other mild cleaners
• Be required to follow toxic material disposal procedures; check with your local EPA office for a “Tox-Away Day” and store your empty containers for safe disposal at that time
If you need additional information about disposing of a particular type of container, check the product’s material safety data sheet or MSDS.


Melanie Holmes said…
Another means of recycling computer junk is to make something out of old PCs. We should all know that electronic wastes destroy the environment. Nice post!