Many of us are guilty of upgrading our phones, computers and printers and not disposing of the old ones correctly.

Perhaps they get stored away in the attic or in a drawer to be dealt with at a later date. Most often, smaller tech items will find their way into the regular bin.

Throwing away hardware like computers, printers, screens and mobile phones is referred to as e-waste.

What is E-waste?

E-waste is increasingly becoming an ecological issue, and recycling is the most sustainable way to enjoy tech upgrade with a clean conscience.

Waste electrical and electronic equipment or WEEE is one of the fastest-growing waste issues.

E-waste is defined as electronic or electric equipment that is no longer working, unwanted or near the end of the “useful life” thrown away.

Here are some examples of e-waste:

  • Mobile phones
  • Microwaves
  • Heaters
  • Fans
  • TVs
  • VCRs
  • Stereos
  • Fax Machines
  • Printers

E-waste is hazardous for wildlife and when disposed of in a landfill. Over time toxic chemicals are leached from the metals and into the surrounding area.

Useable technology

Much of the e-waste that is produced is in good working order. Companies are producing newer technology at a rate to keep up with the competition and consumer demand.

A great example is the millions of working VCRs and videotapes quickly replaced by DVD players and DVDs.

Our technology used to advance at a slower pace, which means that although e-waste was happening, it wasn’t as visible.

In 2019 fridges and A/C units amounted to 17.4 million metric tonnes of global e-waste (Statista).

Fast turn-around electronics

While most people will be happy to have a single refrigerator for 15 years, they’d rather update mobile phones, printers, laptops and computers as fast as possible.

Newer models, while fun, are available at an increasing rate. Consumers appreciate new technology that makes life more convenient, but it increases the e-waste.

So what can we do to improve this process?

How to properly recycle your technology

The incorrect disposal of e-waste is detrimental to aquatic life and the wildlife local to and landfill sites.

Many electronics contain lead, brominated flame retardants, PCBs, and cadmium. These are toxic, and danger can come from the inhalation or the consumption of water, food or soil in the area.

Organise

Go through all of the unwanted tech gadgets that you have. Include old phone models, keyboards, printers, TVs, screens and older tablets too.

Research

Ensure that you only buy from a reputable seller with an exchange or recycling program if you purchase a mobile phone, toner cartridges, laptops, or other electricals.

Many stores are investing in recycling programs and may give you a reduced price for your new purchase. Use a search engine like Google to search for your local e-waste disposal specialist or a location that handles electronic repair and sale.

Donate

If your items are in good working order, rather than trade them in for a discount, it can be worthwhile to donate them.

Shelters, hostels and family charities are often in need of many electrical items. Contact your local donation centres; they may have a pick-up option.

Donating has two big bonuses: you no longer have to find a place to recycle, and the recipient can enjoy the working item for perhaps years.

Sell

Selling the item on eBay or Facebook Marketplace is a great idea. Not only will you be contributing in a positive way to the reduction of e-waste, but you’ll also be getting some money for your efforts.

If you decide to sell your old electronics, ensure that they are in good working order and have a good or high eco-rating.

These two factors will increase the likelihood the item will be used for years rather than a few months.

A healthier environment is something that we all get a benefit from. Recycling your unwanted or unused technology is an integral part of that process.

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