The computer lifecycle

From the mining of natural resources to how they are used and disposed of, every stage of a computer and other electronic products’ life has an impact on the environment.

1. Raw Material Extraction:
Computers contain many metals and other raw materials such as lead, sand, copper, oil and gold, natural resources that are extracted from the earth and processed.

2. Material Manufacturing:
After extraction and processing, raw materials are then used in the production of other materials for the computer’s components. Sand becomes glass, oil goes into plastics and metals become part of integrated circuit boards.

3. Making the Computer:
Component materials are then made into parts such as hard drives, screens and plastic housings. More often than not, these parts are shipped elsewhere for assembly into the finished computer.

4. Packaging:
The computer is then packaged, usually in plastics and cardboard to protect it during transit.

5. Transport:
Packaged computers are shipped all over the world, many traveling great distances from where they were manufactured.

6. Use:
Computers are utilized today in nearly every walk of life, including businesses, schools and homes. Combined usage requires tremendous amounts of energy.

7. End of Life:
The ever-shortening lifespan of a computer currently averages two-five years. Other personal electronic devices are replaced with an even greater frequency. The many toxic substances contained in computers and other electronic devices cause problems when disposed of improperly, but if properly recycled, many of the metal and plastic components can be dismantled and reused.

Ed #13 Balance