Earth’s ever-growing e-wastelands

How many electronic devices do you have around your house? Now, how many of those are in full working order? It’s strange to think that most people keep hold of technology that is outdated, broken, or unwanted – yet we all do it. We share so much of our lives on our devices, that parting with them is no easy task; but what good are they gathering dust on your nightstand?

Around 75% of all electrical waste ends up in landfill sites where it damages the environment and its inhabitants. If left to rot, the chemicals found inside many electronic devices can cause a range of health issues for the people living close-by including: headaches, chest pains, birth defects, skin disorders, cancer and more.

More than a WEEE problem…

In 2006, governments worldwide created a ‘WEEE directive’, to ensure that organisations were making the necessary actions needed to safely dispose of any IT equipment. WEEE stands for Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment recycling. The directive put in place laws and requirements that all corporations must adhere to. However, many cunning businesses have found a loop-hole in the system – sending their ‘WEEE’ to countries where the directive isn’t enforced. The consequences of this are almost incalculable; and the environmental/human impact that this ‘loop-hole’ creates can be devastating to the local communities.

It is estimated that up to 50% of the electronics that get thrown away every year are in working order, or easily salvageable. This means that we’re flooding our already overwhelmed landfill sites with perfectly good tech! Although usually encased in plastic, most electronics contain high quantities of recoverable precious materials such as gold, silver, palladium and copper. These resources are dangerous to mine, and are becoming more and more limited.

If we’re not throwing devices in the dust-bin, we’re hoarding them in our houses for fear of lost or stolen data. Comparatively, this approach is vastly better for the environment than harmful chemicals leaking into the soil, but it’s hardly ideal to keep storing your old devices at home every time you upgrade. The problem is, we don’t know the RIGHT way to dispose of our devices. Similarly, most choose simply to do nothing for fear of doing the wrong thing. Here is where we can help…

How can I dispose of my electronic waste responsibly?

Green Machine Computers accept donations of any size or quality. Not only will they securely remove any data you may have left on the device, but they have the ability to upgrade the internal components and re-build what is needed to get an item back to working order.

Half of all donations get fixed and given to local schools and organisations. The other half is sold (either as refurbished machines or stripped to their basic components) to support the running costs for the company. During the Covid lockdown, Green Machine remained hard at work; ensuring that all children in the community had accessible technology to do their school-work.

Worldwide, about 54 million metric tonnes of ‘e-waste’ finds its’ way to landfill sites each year (growing by 5% annually), yet a mere 12.5% gets recycled – despite the rare elements found inside. Electronic waste is the fasting growing waste-stream, and although this only counts for around 2% of the total waste in landfill sites, it counts for 70% of the ‘toxic waste total‘.

Ok, so now that we know what NOT to do with redundant technology, what SHOULD we be doing?

Reuse, reduce, recycle

In an ideal world, we wouldn’t be creating devices so potentially harmful in the first place. However, in a world of rising technological reliance, to avoid buying electronics entirely would be incredibly difficult and somewhat fruitless. What we should be focussing our attention on, is the reuse of these items. Can your device be upgraded to meet your requirements? Is there a refurbished model available?

Help give a new life to pre-loved technology. The next time you are due for an upgrade, consider the device you’re leaving behind. Could someone else benefit from an item you no longer want? Perhaps, rather than attributing to the chemicals and fossil fuels used in production, you could buy refurbished products where possible. Refurbished tech will come with a new warranty, so you can rest easy knowing that purchasing in a mindful way won’t sacrifice on quality.

For more information about Green Machine Computers please visit: www.greenmachinecomputers.com,

or browse their refurbished products at

www.greenmachineit.co.uk

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1 thought on “Disposing of your old tech, the ethical way”

  1. Pingback: The Digital Dump: How our E-waste is burying poor communities. - Green Machine

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