LEEF-small logoLifespan has used its industry knowledge and the latest scientific literature to develop this interactive, web-based model. For very small up to very large quantities of electronics, you can get a quantitative picture of the value and environmental impact of recycling your used electronics as opposed to landfilling them.

Economic Benefits

Discarding old equipment and rubbish into the landfill where it will slowly decompose over thousands of years renders the basic materials in that equipment inaccessible and unable to be used in the production of new equipment. Instead, the materials must be mined or extracted and transported large distances to be smelted.

Improving the diversion from landfills of resource-intensive equipment such as electronics can provide a cheap and readily-accessible input or feedstock for the creation of new electronics and equipment.

Environmental Benefits

Electronic equipment is full of hazardous materials that you don't want in your body, in your water supply, or in the air you breathe.
  • LCD TVs and monitors contain large amounts of mercury.
  • Circuit boards contain mercury, lead solder, dioxins, and toxic flame retardants.
  • CRT (bulky) TVs and monitors are made from large quantities of leaded glass.
  • Batteries found in computers and consumer electronics contain acids and dangerous heavy metals.

  • These materials and chemicals can leach into the ground and water or be emitted to the air if they are improperly disposed of, such as in a landfill or through burning.
    Not only does proper recycling ensure these materials are isolated and safely reprocessed and repurposed, it is also prevents new raw materials from having to be mined, extracted, and smelted to be used for new electronics.

    The environmental toll of mining and extracting new heavy and precious metals as opposed to using recycled and repurposed scrap materials is quantified in this model.
    For instance, it takes only 10% of the energy to smelt scrap PC cases into steel than it does for iron to be mined, transported, and smelted into the equivalent amount of steel -- with a lot less waste material generated.
    In the end, the cost of extracting and refining new materials to manufacture PCs and electronic equipment uses much more energy and has a larger environmental impact than leaving the electronic equipment powered on for several years.