The United Nations has launched a new guide on how to recycle computer equipment in a way that minimizes the impact of waste on health and the environment, particularly in developing countries, in an era when more than 1 billion computers are in use each year.
Nearly 180 million computers have been replaced this year, with 35 million of them simply being dumped, despite of the toxic materials they contain.
The free guide by the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), published in English and French, seeks to help entrepreneurs hoping to get into computer recycling to handle the growing amount of waste generated by old computers.
It also targets non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and those working in development at the local level.
Practical advice and case studies from recycling plants in Burkina Faso, France and India are included in the guide.
The new publication notes that re-using computers, which may require repairing them, is the ideal option, since it will allow more people to a single device and reduce waste.
Parts that cannot be salvaged can be disassembled and processed to recover raw materials, including iron, aluminium, copper and precious metals such as gold and silver.