5 Top Tips to Avoid E-waste

Olio updates 3 min read
Landfill site

So what is e-waste and why is it so bad? E-waste is discarded electronic appliances such as mobile phones, computers and TVs. Around 50 million tonnes of e-waste is generated every year, which is more than the weight of all of the commercial airplanes ever made1. If nothing changes, it is estimated that the annual amount of e-waste could more than double by 20502.

Out of all discarded electronics, only about 20% is recycled through organised and regulated channels3. When discarded electronics end up in landfill they release toxic substances such as lead and mercury that can leach into soil and water, which poses a serious risk to the health and well-being of both workers and communities as a whole as well as the environment. What’s more, an enormous amount of raw materials that are actually reusable are being thrown away on a daily basis, including copper, iron, fossil fuels, titanium, gold, and silver. 

So how can you ensure your unwanted or preloved electronics aren’t going to waste or are being disposed of correctly?

1. Find opportunities for reuse

If the item is still in good working order or requires only minor repairs, think about giving it to someone else. If friends or family don’t want it, why not share with your local community on Olio, or there are a number of charities that will take them and get value from old items, especially mobile phones.

2. Postpone upgrading for as long as you can

Think twice about getting your phone or other devices upgraded. Do you really need a new device to do your job or communicate effectively with others?

3. Try returning the item to the manufacturer

If the item is broken or unusable, a first port of call should be the manufacturer. Ask if they have a process for returning old electronics and their materials for credit. Most won’t take back goods at the end of their working life, but some will, and the only way market practice and accountability will change is if enough consumers advocate for it.

4. Buy refurbished tech

Backmarket and ebay are two great places to do this!

5. Take them to a dedicated e-waste recycling facility

If there really is no way to reuse or return the item, find a reliable local organisation who will recycle it. There are plenty of places that will take old electronics – you can easily search for one in your area at Recycle Now.

Sources 1, 2, 3

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