One thing leads to another, and so forth. This is how this piece came to be. I saw this article from the NY Times Technology section highlighting how the Big Apple’s electronic junk – trashed, old and non-functioning desktop computers – are being recycled or processed by volunteers.
A question dawned on me, what about here in the Philippines? I mean, we Pinoy netizens (at least the financially-blessed among us) have been happily blogging or telling stories to our friends/readers both online and offline about our new and latest desktops, gaming consoles, mobile phones, peripherals and pretty much everything electronic. It generates buzz, fame, albeit jealousy and traffic for those who blog about it.
But what about the old rig that was replaced? The yester-month’s model now deemed as unfit to be shown on flickr albums for they are now relics, even fossils of the digital age? In an earlier piece, I suggested how these old-yet-functioning pieces of electronics can be disposed off by selling them in eBay or other forums. Again, what about the ones that are completely obsolete, non-functioning or cannot be sold off?
Are these simply thrown out along with the household trash? If it is, where does it go? What happens to it?
With 21 years of living in the Philippines I reckon that the following could be answers to the questions mentioned a while ago:
1) Your trusty neighborhood scrap-collector (magbobote, magbabakal, basurero)
I’ve never really sold off any scrap metal or appliance to them before but I remember that we once sold our dicrepit refrigerator for quite an amount back when I was still in highschool. They would buy anything that would have some metals, espcially precious metals, in it and according to how much it weighs. Old television sets, stovetops to water tanks. I wager that they would relish at getting their hands on some old desktops computers and its CRT monitor.
2) Your local junkshop
Of course all the scrap-collectors would end up here to further sell by bulk, what they have collected. I’ve seen quite a few junk shops in Manila, some even had a section devoted to housing old computers and monitors and parts. They sort, tear down appliances and computers to their parts, plastic boards to IC chips rich with gold, silver, copper and other precious metals.
3) Local recycling/processing facilities
Junk shops would eventually sell their stocks to the serious recycling or reprocessing facilities. One such facility is owned by the HMR Group, which is based in Australia. They first opened their facility here in the Philippines back in 2003. They also have facilities in the US, particularly in California.
They have all the necessary equipment and resources to fully reprocess, recover and recycle computer hardwares and even softwares. They safely extract lead form old CRT displays, seperating the glass from lead elements. The local facilityâ€™s focus is on de-manufacturing and re-use of electronics components and processing machinery generated by export zone enterprises.
Come to think of it, I think I’ve just realized where those old ‘recon desktops’ (reconditioned) that are being sold for a fraction of the price of a modern and up-to-date desktop in malls and shops come from.
Well, that’s E-recycling, and isn’t it wonderful?