The volume of globally discarded tech is increasing at an alarming rate, and according to UN reports the ‘e-waste mountain’ could reach 50 million tonnes this year. This ever increasing agglomeration of broken computer components and shattered smartphones is wreaking havoc on the environment and local ecosystems, which is why safe and responsible tech recuse is more important than ever.
By their nature tech products such as laptops and smartphones are designed to be disposable with a limited shelf life to ensure users upgrade to the latest models and keep the corporations profitable. Industry giants such as Apple rely on this behaviour by releasing new models more frequently when older devices are often still perfectly operational. People want the latest gadgets and brand names regardless of the functionality of their current device. Another industry ploy is to prevent new software working on older devices, users are forced to upgrade their iPhone to get the latest OS.
So where does all of this old tech end up?
Some of it will inevitably end up in landfill where harmful chemicals used in the manufacturing process such as lead, cadmium, and polychlorinated biphenyls will end up leaching into the environment causing water and soil pollution. When toxic metals enter the groundwater system they can pollute ecosystems for miles around and stay there for years after. When heated these chemicals are released into the atmosphere and have severe detrimental effects on wildlife and people living nearby.
A lot of tech trash is illegally exported to countries such as China, India and Nigeria which have become e-waste hubs circumventing the legitimate global tech recycling market, which is estimated to be worth £4 billion by 2020. Computer components and smartphone circuitry contains a lot of precious metals alongside the toxic ones, these include gold, silver, palladium and copper, all of which can be re-sold and re-used.
Reuse is the way forward
Responsible IT disposal, computer reuse and recycling is the way forward for environmentally conscious individuals and businesses. The trend of treating tech as throwaway items is not going to reverse while industry giants continue to rake in huge profits from quick turnaround product lines. Getting that latest tech upgrade doesn’t always mean your old phone or laptop should go into the bin. If it is still functioning it can be traded in for cash and refurbished for re-sale, if not it can still be recycled as many of the components can be reused in other devices.
AssetCare are specialists in tech reuse, recycling and secure data disposal, so contact us to find out how to put your old tech to better use.