As time progresses, summers get hotter, and natural disasters increase more people are thinking about sustainability and being more environmentally friendly – whether that is in the home or in the workplace.
It can seem a daunting task, and everything we feel able to do seems small and inconsequential. But even the smallest change can have an impact.
One of the easiest changes to make is to deal with your e-waste appropriately, and if possible reduce the amount you produce.
What is E-Waste?
In an increasingly online world the amount of e-waste we produce is growing and includes any electronics such as mobile phones, laptops, e-readers, memory sticks, PCs, and all those gadgets associated with the Internet of Things.
One of the biggest issues with such electronic devices is that many of them have built-in obsolescence meaning they are not designed to last forever, and in many cases repairing them to extend their lifespan isn’t possible.
There are between 20-50 metric tons of E-waste every year and sadly, this often ends up in landfill where it will remain for many centuries before it breaks down. Not even UK landfill but shipped to developing countries such as Africa or Asia meaning they have the environmental fallout, including contaminated soil, water and air.
How to Reduce E-Waste
As well as built-in obsolescence many of us are dazzled by fancy marketing campaigns which encourage us to buy the latest upgrade or the latest gadget before the old one is even a year old. It can be difficult to resist but something we need to try to do in order to reduce the amount of e-waste we produce. Within your business you could implement these solutions.
- Donate or Sell – Any items which still work, but no longer have a use for you can be sold or donated extending their lifespan or stripped down and sold for component parts.
- Reduce Consumption – Simply buy less electronic items. Don’t upgrade phones or laptops as often instead opting for upgrades in software or memory to extend the lifespan. Don’t pick up free USBs or other electronic devices at conferences as they are rarely used and simply add to landfill.
- Repair – If a screen breaks on a mobile or a laptop the initial reaction is to write it off and replace it, but it is possible to repair some damage, which will be cheaper than replacing it and can extend the life span of the device.
- Reduce Production – For businesses that attend conferences or send out corporate gifts think carefully about what you produce. In the era of Cloud working do you really need to produce 500 USB sticks bearing your logo which will either be thrown in a drawer or the bin following the conference? Probably not.
- Inventory Check – Knowing exactly what devices you have in stock can prevent over buying, as well as identifying whether items can be refurbished, or updated in order to keep them in use. It’s surprising how many mobile phones, USB sticks, chargers and batteries you will uncover within your workspace – all in perfect working order.
- Cloud Storage – Storing data in the cloud can reduce the need for USB sticks and external hard drives which clog up drawers and can easily be damaged. Ensuring you have the best data storage solutions in place can lead not to the paperless office, but the device free office.
However, even instigating such changes doesn’t completely eliminate e-waste, but this becomes less of a problem if you dispose of it responsibly.
Disposing of E-Waste Responsibly
Whereas we all know how to safely recycle paper, glass, plastic and metal, and know where we can take medical blister packs and batteries for recycling, knowing what to do with an old laptop is a little less clear. At present only about 20% of the world’s e-waste is recycled. Imagine that 80% of every electronic item you have ever used is still in existence somewhere. Probably landfill.
When disposing of e-waste, the best course of action is to recycle and all around the country are businesses that take old and broken electronic items which they either repair if possible or break down into component parts which they then sell or recycle. Alternatively, most council waste sites will have a skip for electronic items.
In a world where electronic devices are essential, reducing e-waste is going to be a slow process but one that is important. Here at SupportWise we may be able to extend the life of your PCs, laptops and mobile phones with upgraded software, replacing components or adding memory, so if you are thinking of replacing your hardware why not give us a ring first and see if you can save more items going to landfill this year.
Want to avoid E-Waste altogether? We fix and maintain your hardware and software, so why not get in touch to see how we can support your business – Contact SupportWise IT Services