Monday, Dec. 06, 2010

Recycling e-Waste

High-tech may have a clean image — all smooth-edged iPhones and liquid crystal displays — but the elements that go into mobile phones, computers and TVs can be polluting to the environment and dangerous to human health if incorrectly disposed of. And that's exactly what happens in parts of the developing world, where the poor take apart your phone with little protection, exposing themselves to mercury, lead, cadmium and other dangerous metals so that they can get to the gold, copper and other valuable materials within. So-called e-waste is the fastest growing part of the solid waste stream, and some 20 to 50 million metric tons of it are thrown out every year.

But there are ways to recycle e-waste, reducing the need to mine more of the metals that go into high-tech items, and preventing the environmental consequences of poorly processed electronics. CloudBlue, based in New Jersey, helps tech companies take care of their e-waste, arranging for direct pickup and processing, ensuring that valuable metals can be reused and recycled for future electronics. For customers like banks that have to worry about sensitive data that might be encoded on old computers, CloudBlue can also process the waste onsite. With all this, the company can ensure that no e-waste will ever end up in a landfill — or worse, poisoning a child in Africa or China.