PC Recycler Strikes Gold in Old Computer Chips

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This is the VOA Special English Technology Report.

Each year, Americans throw away millions of tons of electronic devices. That means business is good for a small electronics recycler in Chantilly, Virginia.

Company President Jeremy Faber established PC Recycler. He spoke to us from the floor of his company’s processing center. Workers were busy taking apart televisions, cell phones and computers -- anything electronic.

Jeremy Faber says the flow of discarded electronics is only increasing.

JEREMY FABER: “Electronics recycling is the fastest growing waste stream in the United States right now.”

Recycling electronic waste is not a single job. Newer devices can be rebuilt and resold. Breaking down electronics into small parts for refiners to melt and purify is another part of the business. Operations Manager Andrew Portare says computer circuit boards are rich resources.

ANDREW PORTARE: “Boards have the highest scrap value in them so you can actually see on the back you’re looking at different types of metals. This one is a really good example. Some of the older ones are mainly all gold.”

Gold now sells for more than one thousand three hundred dollars an ounce. Twenty-five percent of PC Recycler’s sales come from selling parts to refiners.

Refining companies pay more than ten dollars a kilogram for computer boards. PC Recycler can also lift profits by holding metal-rich parts until prices rise.

ANDREW PORTARE: “If copper’s up one day, we can ship all of our copper extract and capitalize on the market.”

Computers also hold private or secret information. And securing that data is the fastest growing part of PC Recycler's business. Completely removing data from a computer hard drive is not easy. PC Recycler can remove data magnetically or completely destroy and recycle the drives.

Discarding waste in a way that meets government environmental protection rules is also important. Old TVs can contain over a kilogram of lead as well as cadmium -- both highly poisonous.

PC Recycler supports the Basel Action Network, which seeks to limit harmful waste and technology. The company says it does not export electronics to China, India or Africa where environmental rules are weak.

Jeremy Faber says PC Recycler has been in business since two thousand three, expanding from waste management to other, more technical services.

JEREMY FABER: “There really isn’t a lot of industries out there that are like this. There’s either the scrap industry where they’re shredding cars and shredding tires and there’s the refurbished PC market and we’re sort of sit right in between both of those.”

And that’s the VOA Special English Technology Report. Go to voaspecialenglish.com and click on the Classroom to explore our new English teaching activities. I’m Mario Ritter.

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