How to Dispose of E-Waste Responsibly: The Basics & Benefits
With more and more of us receiving, treating ourselves or upgrading our electronic gadgets, landfills across the world are rapidly filling up with all our defunct computers and electronic devices. The effects on the environment are enormous by adding to the pollution in the world and our ill health. To combat this increased dumping of our e-waste there are ways to recycle responsibly and lower the risks to our environment.
What Happens to Our E-Waste?
Once we upgrade our laptops, computers or mobile phones and they are left in our rubbish bins, or outside in the street, they often end up in landfills or incinerators where they’re likely to release harmful poisons into the air. This is due to the high levels of toxins from materials such as lead, mercury and plastics that are prevalent in our goods. Worse still, much of our unwanted e-waste is frequently exported to landfills in developing countries such as China, India or Africa where young children are made to collect the silver and gold from them through melting the chemicals. As a result, they are severely exposed to inhaling the pollutants that we’ve carelessly thrown out.
What is E-Waste?
Anything electronic is considered to be e-waste and with the advent of flat screens for computers and televisions, older versions are now considered obsolete and so have been thrown out in the millions. Below is a list of some of the common e-waste items that we regularly throw out:
- Computers, laptops, hard drives, notebooks and tablets.
- Accessories: power cables, keyboards, mice, external web cams, speakers and microphones.
- Printers, scanners, paper shredders, faxes and photocopiers including the toner and ink cartridges.
- Monitors (ray tubes and flat screens), televisions, video and DVD players.
- Mobile phones, digital cameras, boom blasters, radios, IPods and MP3 players.
- Don’t forget that all cables, chargers, batteries and other accessories should also be thrown out too.
How Can We Benefit from Disposing of Our E-Waste Responsibly?
1. Millions of tonnes of e-waste are thrown out each year and often our gadgets are still in working order so why not make some extra cash from it? Placing adverts in local papers or on auction sites will publicise your working, but unwanted e-waste which people can then re-use themselves. Even if your old computer doesn’t work, they can be used for parts to make up another computer by experts who will then re-use or sell them on.
2. Donate your old phone or computer to a charity of your choice. They can trade them in for cash which helps to raise funds for their cause. Alternatively, if you have a family member or neighbour that needs an old phone or computer, why not give it to them? But make sure it’s in working order first!
3. Many electronic companies will allow you to return your discarded waste recycling direct to them. Check with your manufacturer and find out if they accept returns. Many of them will give you a credit note so although you won’t receive a huge cash deposit, it still will be disposed of responsibly.
4. If all of this sounds too much hassle, then you can have bigger items collected from your home by a local electronic waste disposal company or council but they are likely to charge you a small fee.
5. Why not get your creative side flowing? There are plenty of ideas online for you to get inspiration from to get crafty. Re-using old parts of a laptop or keyboard, for example, to make a clock or coasters which aren’t always too technical to make.