We’re living in a technological age and it’s wonderful…for the most part…
One of the downsides to all this technology is that it’s not exactly ‘biodegradable’. A constant stream of new and improved tech is all very well, but what do you do with the old and outdated tech, and what are the issues surrounding the disposal of electronic equipment?
First of all, so called ‘e-waste’ (including smart phones, monitors, printers, circuit boards, hard drives et al) all contain potentially harmful, toxic substances and should never be put out with household rubbish. In fact increasingly e-waste is finding its way to developing countries and there is now a very real concern that hazardous chemicals and heavy metals from European tech are a big contributor to pollution in Africa, South America and Asia.
For example, a single computer can contain up to 2kg of lead, as well as being over 20% plastic, making it hard to recycle and a serious problem for the planet.
In 2007 the government introduced new legislation to cover waste electrical and electronic equipment (or WEEE, which sounds like far more fun than it is). This legislation dictates that WEEE must be stored, collected, treated, recycled and disposed of separately to other types of waste. Business owners are now legally required to obtain and file proof that their WEEE has been taken by a registered waste management company, which has in turn followed all the legislated guidelines for disposal.
There are now three main methods of disposing of WEEE:
You can take your old electrical goods back to the original manufacturer. The majority of manufacturers now offer this service and some even pay for shipping to their factory or designated recycling plant. Waste products are broken down into their constituent parts, with the recyclable elements being reused and the non-recyclable being disposed of safely.
You can engage the services of a professional waste disposal company. As with the manufacturer option, goods will be recycled where possible. Again, you may or may have to pay to have your WEEE collected (which sounds far worse than it is). The upside to both these methods is that you can guarantee that your electronic waste has been disposed of in compliance with legislation and that you are helping the environment by reducing the amount of waste that goes into landfill and cutting down on the raw materials required for new products.
The top tip with any recycling scheme is to check that the company uses the correct methods of disposal for the type of waste you have, so that you can be assured that not only is the physical waste disposed of safely, but that any data you had on the appliance is thoroughly wiped and can’t be recovered by hackers.
You can donate your tech to charity. Charities are often crying out for computer equipment and would be very grateful for anything you can spare. However, if you donate to charity you need to be even more careful to check that they have appropriate security measures in place to stop your information falling into the wrong hands (even if you’ve previously wiped the computer this can still be accessed by an expert).
If you’d like more advice about how to dispose of your old tech then please drop us a line. We’re happy to help you do your part for the environment!