E-waste. What is it and how do we manage it?

All of us should know how to get rid of our E-waste safely and responsibly. There are companies like South City eWaste Recyclers who have recycling stations across the country. Similarly, companies such as Desco have bins as drop-off points for your electronics. You could also call your municipal authority to find out how they advise you discard of electronic devices. We believe it is the responsibility of all of us to put our planet before profit.

RocketNet

There are too many new e-products released each year

Every year technology changes and new developments and products are released into the market. As newer products come out, older versions become obsolete, and as newer products come out, we tend to just get rid of the older products to make space for the new. In with the new and out with the old, right? Well, no, it’s not as simple as that especially when talking about e-waste.

It’s almost as if devices are intentionally being created with shorter lifespans so that the need to buy a new one arises more often. A phone company will make more money if they bring out a new model each year as opposed to bringing out a model that can last 10 years. Companies often make it easier to buy a new device than to get one fixed and yet seemingly don’t provide many solutions for discarding the old devices.

There is an urgency all over the world for corporations, countries and individuals to deal with environmental issues from plastic waste to carbon emissions and global warming. Each of us have a role to play in dealing with environmental challenges causing climate change and that’s why we all need to understand what e-waste is. This is especially important as the global economy becomes more digital.

E-waste
There are too many electronic products

Understanding E-waste

E-waste is what is referred to as “electronic waste”. Everything we buy that is electronic will at some point in time contribute to the massive accumulation of e-waste around the world. Everything from batteries for your TV remote, to your desktop computer at work will become e-waste. Even the wires you use to plug into your TV power outlet constitutes e-waste. Everything electronic will at some point or another become obsolete or no longer serve a purpose and will need to be discarded.

The problem with E-waste is that it is a lot more complex in its makeup and therefore harder to recycle, reduce or discard than your everyday waste such as plastic bags, cold drink bottles or food waste. A computer has a screen, a battery, circuit boards and many other components that will be thrown away with the computer. When a computer is thrown away, the battery will eventually start to leak, and those chemicals will find their way into the soil, which either destroy the nutrients in the soil, make it uninhabitable or poison the soil. The circuit boards will never decompose, and the screen will most likely break up into thousands of pieces – glass everywhere. Batteries are probably the worst and most detrimental to the environment and the reality is that most of our electronic devices still make use of batteries.

Reduce e-waste
We all have a responsibility to reduce e-waste

What can we do to reduce E-waste

At the beginning of the blog we included some links to companies that are specialists in managing, discarding and recycling e-waste. But there are things we can do as the consumers of these products to make a difference.

First.

The first option is to buy fewer electronics and to look after the ones we already have. Unfortunately, in the day and age we live in, that’s not a realistic goal for every household. We sometimes feel we all need our own devices or the latest big screen T.V. to watch Netflix the way it was always meant to be watched (give the show ‘The Minimalists‘ a try). We not against online entertainment in any way but let’s allow the devices we have to work until they fall apart before purchasing a new one.

Second.

Another practical idea is to take an inventory of what you already have. There is no need to go and buy a new power cable if you already have one sitting in the top drawer you may have forgotten about. So take stock and organise all your spare cables, plugs, connectors and ‘spare’ parts in a way where they are easily accessible and memorable.

Why not…

Make a donation of your superfluous electronics or devices to other people before throwing them away in your rubbish bin. Someone may need what you have and if people aren’t willing to pay, rather donate the items to those people in your network. You could even start an online marketplace for second-hand devices, who knows!.

You could…

Try taking your items to electronic stores like Incredible Connection or the iStore as a trade-in or to receive a potential cash offer. Some electronics stores will simply take the goods off your hands and discard them for you.

Lastly.

In an effort to reduce e-waste, try taking as much of your work online as you can. Rather than going to the shops to buy storage devices such as USB’s or external hard drives, rather explore utilising online services to store valuable data and information in the Cloud.

E-waste is a big environmental problem, and it has to be managed for all of us to have a safe and sustainable future. The growth of the electronic industry is exponential year on year and new methods to dispose of electronics will have to become more ubiquitous, but for now, these are our best options.

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