The problem with acronyms and abbreviations is that they often confuse search engines. Take PCB, for example. PCB is short for BOTH "printed circuit board" and "polychlorinated biphenyl". While both of these PCBs have important uses, their health hazards and hazardous waste matter too. Thankfully, the EPA has methods for controlling both PCBs and their related hazards, and it starts with you, the consumer.
This chemical has spent a long time in the plastics industry. It was once a leading chemical in plastic baby bottles, too! A little over a decade ago, the EPA discovered that this PCB was responsible for developmental disorders and some cancers. It was then eliminated from everything that would come into contact with food or liquid. That significant action reduced the amount of PCB material to which humans were exposed.
PCB particles were also thrown off as industrial waste, polluting lakes and rivers. Bodies of water have to be dredged regularly to remove these particles and make the environment better. As a consumer, you can do your part by taking all old plastics (older than five years) to a plastics recycling plant that will determine if polychlorinated biphenyl is present, and then the recycling company will dispose of it according to government regulations.
Printed Circuit Boards (PCB #2)
Printed circuit boards bring their own potential hazards. Humans need them to power and operate all computing devices. In most instances, direct contact with this PCB is not as dangerous to your health as the PCB above. However, this PCB does create its own waste, and not just tech waste.
Creation of printed circuit boards go through several processes, creating waste water, metal particles, etc. This waste was also addressed by the EPA when it became apparent that hazardous waste associated with the production of needed high-tech goods and electronics was going to be a problem. Successful plans of action have helped PCB companies reduce and recycle the production waste while still providing everyone with computers, laptops, tablets, and smartphones.
Your part in dealing with printed circuit boards and their related waste has everything to do with recycling. Most of the components and printed boards in your devices are completely recyclable. This means that you can send tech junk to a recycling plant for printed board extraction. The recycling company then reuses the boards and components to create new devices and/or fix and refurbish older devices.