Electronic waste materials, or e-waste, is currently a massive problem for the world, and one that tends to under-appreciated by most people. The majority of us must realise that as a consequence of our “throwaway society” today, gadgets and equipment can become obsolete faster than ever. We normally focus more on the personal cost of replacing an item, which we may be able to justify, and often fail to consider the impact of the e-waste we are creating by quite literally adding to the growing pile of discarded electronic trash.
However, even knowing and understanding this concept, it can be hard to grasp the reality of our current situation. In 2011, we produced over 41.5 million tons of electronic waste, including televisions, computers, phones, other consumer electronics and industrial equipment. Since then, the figures have increased at an alarming rate, and we are predicted to produce 93.5 million tons, which is over 125% more e-waste in total by the end of 2016.
In only five years, we have increased our turnover of electronic trash to the point where we produce more than twice as much in a single year. By 2020 this is predicted to reach 150 million tons yearly. Meanwhile, the electronic recycling industry is also growing, although whether its growth rate is sufficient to keep up with demand is unclear. In 2012 the industry as a whole was valued at $9.8 billion USD, and based on growth since then, it’s set to surpass $40 million by 2019. (more…)
We talk a lot about the volume of e-waste being produced today, and various problems that may arise as a result of people not recycling their computers, TVs and other items. So, once you’re on board with the idea, how do you go about recycling those electronic goods properly? Here are the options you can usually try.
1) Take-back schemes
The most efficient way for a consumer to recycle old goods is to take them back to the store they were bought at. In Europe, all shops are subject to Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Regulations meaning they are required by law to offer you a way of recycling your old items when they sell you a new model. In addition, the largest stores actually have to provide recycling facilities for small devices such as mobile phones that weren’t necessarily even sold by them. In the US there are many national schemes offering subsidies for similar policies.
2) Local recycling services
If you aren’t buying a replacement model from a major electronics shop or you would prefer a different solution, you can turn to other local services that will process your e-waste and recycle it. There may be local private companies offering the service (although you may need to check their rules to see if your item is suitable), or you may be able to arrange a collection with your local council. (more…)
Refurbished computers are one of the most efficient solutions for computer recycling, since there is little processing involved. Rather than going through the expensive hassle of separating out a machine into its constituent materials and treating each one separately so it can be used again, cutting out this whole process is a lot better for the environment and cheaper for everyone involved.
However, it’s not always ideal to opt for refurbished electronic products. Under certain circumstances, there are risks involved when you don’t know the full history of a product. We have previously gone through the types of electronics that are rarely suitable for buying second-hand, but in other cases, you can get a great bargain by knowing what to look out for. The perfect circumstances for buying refurbished will most likely include the following.
1) A good return policy
Having some time to change your mind, even without having to provide evidence for your reason, is especially important when buying used electronics. You can’t be sure of a computer’s history just from looking at its box or even the product itself, and if you’re getting a cheap deal on something that isn’t even claiming to be in “like new” condition, there could be any number of problems with it. 14 days or more is ideal for a returns policy, but even seven days is better than nothing. If a store doesn’t let you refund any refurbished item, it’s unlikely to be worth the risk. (more…)
Today we have a fun one for those people who love to maximise the potential of their PCs. If you have a desktop PC, you might be wondering why it has to be so big, and in fact you might have empty bays in your tower that aren’t being used at all! Other than adding additional hard drives or DVD drives, there’s seemingly little you can use the space for. This is where some of these ideas might come in useful. Why not give them a try?
1) Fan control system
Fans are necessary to stop your computer overheating, of course, and some PCs even have a few installed. However, they can get noisy and aren’t necessarily being used appropriate by your built-in software. You can buy an external control system that fits right into a 5.25-inch bay on your tower, and the best ones on the market will display information about your system’s temperate while allowing you to control the speed of your fans.
2) Additional ports and readers
Your PC might not have as many ports as you would like, since we all have different requirements and many models only include the essentials. Perhaps you regularly have to use an adapter to read your SD card, or maybe your USB transfers are a little sluggish because you haven’t upgraded to USB 3.0 yet. It’s easy to find add-ons for PCs that feature all these ports and more, so you can simply slot it straight into a spare bay. (more…)
As we have explained before, just because one person is finished with a laptop or computer, this doesn’t make it the end of its useful life by any means. They can usually be returned to the manufacturer for various reasons in return for a proportion of their money back (depending on the condition of the item). This means the manufacturer is able to “refurbish” them, which only means they do whatever is necessary to get the computer back to a saleable condition.
This may require very little effort, but the price reduction when it goes back on the market can be great. Buying refurbished laptops instead of new can save consumers a ton of money, as you can often get a PC that’s indistinguishable from a brand new model for just a fraction of the cost. Of course you are taking a bit of a gamble because part of the reason for the low prices is to disguise the difference between different refurbishing jobs. Some of the reasons a PC might be classed as refurbished include:
You can’t be sure what has happened to a laptop in the past if its box has been opened, but in the vast majority of cases, it means someone has simply opened the packaging before deciding to return it. Most of these would be exactly the same as a new unit inside.
Damaged during shipping
If a product’s packaging is damaged during shipping, it will most likely be sent back and the manufacturer can no longer sell it as new, even if the laptop or PC inside is actually unharmed.
Units that have previously been out on display in stores, even if shoppers couldn’t actually use them, are sometimes classed as just refurbished and may not be explicitly labelled as ex-demo models. (more…)
The UK government has recently demonstrated a commitment to improving the environment by developing new aviation fuel in conjunction with universities across the country. The point of the new fuel development is not only to minimise carbon emissions, which is a priority across the world, but the fuel itself will also be made from recycled carbon dioxide and biological waste. This is a great step forward and will hopefully lead to major developments in the future when it comes to sustainable and renewable fuel.
The funding package that was agreed by the government amounts to £2 million and is split between teams at Heriot-Watt University as well as Aston, Oxford and Edinburgh. The two-sided approach to making the new fuel from renewable sources and reducing the pollution it causes is very encouraging for those of us who are interested in recycling and promoting environmental improvements. (more…)
Since people are becoming more aware of the great benefits of recycling electronic waste such as redundant televisions and computers, there is a growing need for companies who specialise in the removal of these old products. E-waste recycling companies are under pressure at the best of times to try and find the most efficient solution for getting rid of all this outdated technology, but recently since more people are realising this is a good thing to do, many companies have been overwhelmed. We have seen this happening in the US and in the UK, plus we have heard reports from elsewhere in the world.
Especially in busy periods like following Christmas, there is a huge influx of e-waste as people replace their old technology. There often isn’t anything wrong with what they’re recycling, and in fact the condition of many discarded products is very good, but if they’re no longer needed by their original owners and not worth a large amount of money, things are often considered waste in today’s society. Space is a key factor here, because people simply have such a large quantity of goods that they can’t store them all in their houses, and old technology tends to be bulky and useless so it’s the first to go. People have limited time to take care of these items and it can seem easier to give them to recycling companies.
However, in terms of efficiency and helping the environment with recycling, this is probably not the best option in many cases. Recycling through mechanical or chemical means takes up a lot of resources, time, energy and money. “Recycling” has begun to mean exactly this, but in fact there are better ways of doing this and minimising the impact on the environment. (more…)
There are many benefits to recycling old technology, and you might be surprised how much of a difference you can make just by looking around and finding old items you have lying around. You might find that before long you have a large collection of different bits and pieces that could actually be worth something if they were recycled into something new. Not many people realise the value in recycling old televisions, computers, monitors and so on, and even if you do know you should be recycling these things, you might be confused as to how to go about it.
One of the main problems we face is how fast technology becomes obsolete. Companies like Apple and Microsoft have moved us all on drastically over the last 20 years, at an increasing pace. It’s good for many of us that there are often technological advances that mean it’s worthwhile for us to replace what we already have. (more…)
If you do manage to recycle your old computer, monitor, television or phone, then that’s great and you’re hopefully contributing to a more positive future for everyone involved. Recycling with professional companies minimises the danger of increasing pollution all over the world by throwing away too many unwanted electrical appliances. Unfortunately, though, not enough people are currently doing this, and worse still, waste that is supposedly “recycled” doesn’t always end up in the right places.
Unfortunately, Ghana is just one an example where there is a large amount of pollution due to electronic waste (or e-waste) being dumped in the country. In many places there are large areas with dumped consumer electronics from other countries who have paid to have their unwanted high-tech trash taken to the West African country. The goods left in heaps here are a source of some raw materials for local people who are able to dig through the trash and find anything of any value, but not much is offered in return for using the land as a dumping ground. It isn’t an efficient solution and certainly doesn’t help some of the poorest areas develop independently. So why is this problem becoming more widespread, but not often reported or thought about by the majority of people? (more…)
Since we have been based in Seattle for some time we have a lot of experience with the local and national response to e-recycling. Fortunately after many companies and organisations worked together for a number of years, the trend took off early throughout Washington and we have seen a lot of success for the programs that were set up. The state was only the fourth in the USA to get a formal program in place to help with the issue. Legislation has been able to support the companies offering e-waste recycling services and as a result the uptake has been good for many years.
Across the rest of the USA there has been a decent response overall, but over the years it seems people’s priorities have not adjusted enough. With technology becoming increasingly disposable and easy for people to discard when new replacements come along, there hasn’t been a whole lot of global progress in recent years. In other countries, there has also been a mixed response to attempts to implement official programs to help with e-waste recycling. Ideally we would like to see a much wider uptake of similar ideas, and legislation put in place to make it easier for this to happen. (more…)