Arguably, e-waste is fast becoming the defining issue of our age. Sure, plastics are a huge problem, and the true impact of our plastic production and consumption is only now coming to light. However, recent shifts in attitudes towards single-use packaging and other forms of non-recyclable plastics seems to be making some traction, and across the globe people are beginning to wake up to the destructive consequences of our reliance on plastics of all types.
The increase in electronic waste, however, shows no sign of slowing. Current estimates suggest that around two-thirds of the world population own a smartphone, with the average device thought to last around two to three years. That’s around 5 billion devices in circulation, and those numbers are growing year on year.
Smartphones may well be the most visible piece of the e-waste puzzle, but today, we are literally surrounded by tech at every turn. From the computers and laptops we use for work to the TVs and Bluetooth speakers we use to unwind. And let’s not forget, we are on the cusp of a new revolution in tech that is set to bring even more devices into our homes and offices—the Internet of Things.
Each of these highly complex products contain multiple materials that defy easy disposal or recycling. Additionally, many of the components within tech devices may be toxic when left to decompose in landfill, with lithium-ion batteries being particularly harmful to the environment. It is clear then, that both businesses and individuals need a better approach to e-waste management. Here, we take a look at how you and your business can begin to improve electronic waste management and recycling.
This statement is true for almost any type of product or resource. Buy less and make it last. Of course, the fast-paced nature of the tech world is always pushing you to purchase the latest models. However, when your devices are working perfectly well, do you really need the latest upgrade? Will it make your office run more smoothly? Will it increase sales or customer engagement.
Often, new devices bring diminishing returns if you keep up with the very latest trends. Why not hold onto your tech for just a little longer, or only replace it when it is broken. Maximising a products usefulness is the first step to minimizing waste.
Donate Old Devices
If you must replace devices with the latest models, ensure that old devices and equipment that is still functioning is not left to gather dust or just dumped. Just because your FinTech company requires the fastest processors and latest software doesn’t mean that NGOs and other poorly funded organisations do. Techsoup.org is one such place that facilitates donations across the world, allowing companies to gift old tech which is then distributed to organizations who can make use of it.
Check for Manufacturer Recycling Programs
Today, responsible companies are increasingly offering e-waste recycling programs specifically designed for the devices they manufacture. This provides two benefits: Firstly, since the companies who manufactured the devices have the tools and knowledge to disassemble them correctly, more resources can be recycled and reused.
Secondly, many manufacturers such as Apple, provide discounts and incentives to businesses and individuals on new products. It’s a win-win situation for everyone.
Embrace the Cloud
Cloud computing has come a long way in recent years. Today, cloud storage in particular is already cheaper and more efficient than terrestrial storage. Additionally, SaaS generally requires minimal tech to run and little to no maintenance on the IT side. This allows you to cut down on new physical devices, such as servers or other storage options, and rely more on cloud-based solutions that centralize tech and prioritize sustainability.
Ensure Your E-Waste is Correctly Sorted and Tracked
When prevention is not an option, and in particular when devices are no longer functional, proper recycling is critical to ensure e-waste is kept out of landfill. Whether for small, regular collections or larger one-offs, companies such as RTS can help provide you with transparent services designed to let you track and monitor your e-waste at every stage of the journey—ensuring more of the e-waste you or your company creates is properly and responsibly recycled.