The Absolute IT Asset Disposal Blog

What Raw Materials Are Used to Manufacture IT Assets, And Which Can Be Recycled?


Although the casing of a typical PC, laptop, networking switch or router might be made from plastic, there are many metallic elements below the surface, most of which can be recycled and reclaimed. Some of these materials are environmentally toxic if they end up in landfill so, just like consumer electronic devices, there are strict guidelines and best practices in place for disposing of IT assets when they come to the end of their working lives. 

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As such, it is important to recycle/re-purpose them if possible and dispose of them responsibly if not. An ADISA-accredited IT asset disposal business like Absolute ITAD can ensure that all your old IT assets are processed sustainably and responsibly, and that you get the full value from any recycling rebate from reusable materials.

Given that the world currently has about 8.5 billion devices in use at any one time today, this is a globally significant issue. Read on to find out which raw materials are used in a typical piece of computing equipment.


Metallic Elements


Copper is one of the most widely used metals in all electronics because it is a good conductor. You'll find this in wiring components and radiation shielding. The good news is that copper is widely recycled. 


In addition, most computers and networking devices will have aluminium in them, another easy-to-recycle metal. 


Magnesium, silicone, and zinc also feature in the microchips used in many computers, tablets and smartphones. 


Gold is used, too, especially for pin plating and for audio connections. Gold has high value but recovering it often takes time and effort.

Plastic Elements

It depends on the sort of device you are talking about as to which plastics are used but most devices contain more than one sort. 

Thermoplastics – which are not easy to reprocess – tend to be used for casings since they are hard and durable. More often than not, plastic is used for electrical shielding, too. This sort of plastic can be stripped from wires and reprocessed. In addition, tetracyanoquinodimethane is often found in computing devices. This is derived from an organic compound and used for polymer capacitors. Although this material is sometimes just burnt after its use, it can be recycled, as well.

Rare Elements


IT assets frequently make use of a range of rare materials and minerals. Although not universally deployed in computers, ruthenium is sometimes used for high-quality solid-state hard drives. This element is also used in catalytic converters in vehicles and it is rarer than platinum. As such, reprocessing it when a disk's data has been destroyed is highly advisable, explaining why its recycling rate is so high. 

Along with ruthenium, materials like gallium, lutetium, neodymium and rutherfordium are sometimes used for transistors and processing components. Again, these are hard to extract from processed components, but their high residual value makes the reclamation effort worthwhile.


Handling Used IT Assets

Our premium IT recycling service improves the sustainability and lifetime value of your IT assets by ensuring that all recyclable materials are reused no matter how hard they are to get to. What's more, no harmful substances will be released into the environment. Certainly, plastics from IT assets should not end up in the world's oceans. In addition, elements like mercury – used in LCD displays – are potentially harmful to health and need to be handled as such. 


Find Out More


As one of the East Midland’s leading asset recycling businesses and an accredited member of ADISA, you can trust Absolute ITAD to take care of your old IT assets professionally. To discuss your recycling requirements or for a free quote, please call today.

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