We live at a time where both individuals and companies are striving to reduce their environmental impact in response to the global challenges we face. Today we look at the impact of e-waste and how buying refurbished can help make a difference.

What is e-waste?

E-waste (electronic waste) refers to any electronic items or products that have come to the end of their ‘useful life’ and are then discarded or recycled. These items include a wide range of electronic devices such as computers, monitors, phones, printers and batteries.

It is estimated that in the UK alone businesses and homes produced 1.45 million tonnes of electronic waste in 2019, worldwide this figure rises to 53 million metric tonnes. Worldwide in the same year less than 18% of this waste was recycled.

What is the impact?

When it comes to items discarded rather than recycled one huge problem is there no safe way to dispose of them.

Computers and electronic devices contain many toxic metals and materials including but not limited to nickel, mercury, lead and barium. These materials can have an impact not only on the environment but also human health.

If placed in landfills these materials can seep through the soil and into the groundwater impacting not just crops, wildlife and livestock but also toxicity levels in the sea when the water eventually flows into it. If electronics are incinerated the chemicals are released into the atmosphere causing damage and pollution.

Whilst recycling is of course preferable it is not without its own risks, particularly depending on how it is undertaken. Studies from the Chinese City of Guiyu, home of the largest e-waste recycling plant on Earth, show substantially increased levels of neurological, digestive and respiratory problems amongst its residents.

Aside from health and pollution issues there is also another side to the environmental impact- the cost of making new items. This can be the costs of manufacture and transportation of new products but also the cost of their raw materials. There are large quantities of gold and other metals used in electronics production, some of course can come from recycling but the rest must be mined. Mining is a hugely energy intensive process and some metals used like neodymium are incredibly rare.

What can be done?

There a number of things that can be done to reduce the amount of e-waste and its impact. Instead of buying new electronic items existing ones can be repaired, failing that refurbished items can be acquired rather than new ones. If an item can no longer be used steps can be taken to ensure it is recycled and not disposed of. It is the principle of the circular economy- keeping resources in circulation and designing pollution out of the process.

For our part as a company we have taken steps in line with our Environmental Plan to ensure all electronic components we can no longer use are recycled and none are disposed of to landfill or for incineration. All of the waste generated now at the company is in fact zero to landfill.

In addition the services we provide for our customers ensure their IT equipment’s lifespan is as long as possible. We offer spare parts sourcing if only a small part of a larger unit needs to be replaced. We also offer component level repairs so parts such as motherboards can continue to be used rather than replaced. We undertake UK wide collections of old equipment so customers can remove the older parts of their IT infrastructure knowing it will either be repurposed or recycled.

Finally we sell refurbished parts back onto the market to both corporate customers and home users. Our web store offers a huge selection with around 5,000 refurbished lines currently in stock.

If you would like to visit our web store please follow the link here, or feel free to get in contact if the services we offer are of interest to you.