Electronic waste, and especially computer equipment, is becoming one of the fastest growing streams of waste in the UK. Low prices mean that we can make the decision to upgrade or buy new products regularly and there is always something newer, more exciting and more advanced on the market, meaning older equipment gets left by the wayside. Figures from America suggest there are approximately 20 million obsolete PCs in their country alone.
Why should I recycle?
Discarded computer equipment includes everything from monitors to printers, to hard drives and internal circuit boards. Throwing out these items with your household rubbish is dangerous as they contain toxic chemicals which means they can be classified as hazardous waste. This type of computer waste, also known as e-waste, often ends up shipped to the developing world and causing problems in other countries. The UN’s Environment Programme has expressed concern at the volume of e-waste making its way to Africa, Asia and South America, meaning that people in these countries could potentially suffer.
Legislation came into force in 2007 to set some guidelines with regard to the disposal of waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) which includes computer equipment. These regulations have significant impact on anybody who treats or recovers WEEE and it has to be stored, collected, treated and recycled in a specific way. It now needs to be kept separate from other waste and it’s not a requirement that you keep proof that your WEEE was given to a reputable waste management company and treated and disposed of in an environmentally friendly manner.
There are many disposal options open to you and they don’t all involve contacting a waste management firm. We’re looking at each in turn below.
It’s becoming more common that the company you bought your equipment from will have an e-waste management scheme which means you can simply return your product to them when it becomes obsolete. Many of the big brands in computing are committed to recycling with large brands recycling in excess of 74 million kilograms of electronics in a single year. These types of scheme are beneficial as they help to reduce the waste that ends up in landfills and make recycling convenient for the consumer.
Professional Waste Disposal
A professional waste disposal scheme will carry out the same procedures as a manufacturer’s scheme. You need to ensure they’re a reputable firm and should check they comply with WEEE and all relevant legislation and can provide you with evidence of their Waste Carriers License.
Donate to Charity
Many non-profit organisations put out pleas for your old equipment, working and not, to use for the benefit of their work or donate to their users. Some charities ship equipment out to the developing world so they can learn about ICT whilst other recipients include UK consumer groups.
Just Sell It
There are many streams through which you can simply sell your old equipment and this can be the easier option. Once you’ve decided you need the new MacBook Air then it’s a no brainer to think “I better sell my old Macbook Pro then”. It still counts are recycling as your old computer will be being reused by somebody else.