For many of us we are defenceless without our devices – our TVs, tablets, laptops, but most of all, our smartphones, those over-indulging, pocket-sized computers. We love our mobiles that much, it’s actually been reported by Gartner, a tech research company, that an estimated 1.5 billion cell phones were bought in 2017. This figure is staggering, but what does it mean for our old phones?
Discarded mobile phones, laptops, tablets and all other electronic items are quickly becoming the world’s fastest growing waste problem. The United Nations researchers have urged that the issue must be tackled at all costs. Concerning reports have surfaced finding that electronic junk has risen by 8% in 2 years, with just 20% being recycled. Furthermore, the UN have projected that e-waste is set to hit 50m tonnes by the end of 2018. It is worth noting that e-waste contains various toxic substances, such as cadmium, lead and mercury, all of which are extremely damaging to the environment and should be disposed of professionally.
Fortunately, there are plenty of options available to us to counter this growing problem, here’s a handy list of 4 unique ways to recycle your old gadgets.
1. Manufacturer Return
Many manufacturers of electronic goods offer recycling programs with various initiatives and incentives for sending in your old devices. Apple has started a fantastic program called Apple GiveBack, the trade-in service accepts smartphones, tablets, computers, smart watches and other devices from any manufacturer. In return Apple will offer store credit for working devices and they’ll recycle broken devices for free, regardless of the condition. What’s more Apple has developed it’s very own disassembly robot named Daisy that can instantaneously take apart iPhones in order to recover the valuable materials inside.
Apple is not the only one, here’s a list of a few other major firms with recycling initiatives:
Samsung Recycle – a similar program to Apple’s, a free trade-in service for any smartphone make, if the device is still working then Samsung will pay out, if not they’ll recycle it in anyway free of charge.
Sony Global – Sony offers a global recycling program, taking in used products from around the world free of charge. The tech giant is working towards a ‘Road to Zero’ goal, eliminating all environmental footprint by 2050.
Huawei Recycling Program – Huawei have recycling stations set up in cities around the world that will take your e-waste off your hands free of charge.
2. Donate Working Gadgets
Whether your device is still working or not, plenty of charities and non-profit organisations exist that would be more than happy to take it off your hands. The electronics will either be sold on to raise money, refurbished and donated or sent to a recycling centre.
Here are just a few organisations that will take on your electronics:
Computer for Charities (CFC) – A well-established charity going back to 1992, CFC take in working computer systems around the globe, refurbish them and distribute the devices to African schools.
Little Lives UK – A brilliant UK organisation that will collect your working devices directly from your home and donate them 100% to their designated children charities.
Computer Aid – The global leader in non-profit supply of IT equipment. Computer Aid takes in semi-working PCs, tablets, mobile phones from around the world, professionally refurbishes them and delivers the devices to schools and communities most in need. Take a look at the process of donating a computer to Computer Aid:
3. Take it to a Recycling Organisation
There are a number of organisations and local communities that provide recycling centres or collection points for your used devices. Recycle Now is the national recycling campaign for England, they provide a useful, online recycling locator service. All you have to do is insert your postcode and the system will show up all the nearest recycling centres and organisations that will take in your used electronics.
If you’re a business or a school there are also many agencies that will collect your e-waste direct from your location. Firms such as DJB Recycling travel across the country recycling electronics and many more, as well as offering total waste management solutions that don’t cost the Earth a thing.
4. Distributor/Retailer Return
Introduced by the EU in 2002 and finally implemented by the UK in 2007, the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Directive introduced collective, recycling and recovery targets for all types of electrical goods. The order means by law, any retailer or distributor that sells electronic goods, bears the responsibility for its product over their entire life cycle. If you bought your device from a retailer then you are eligible to take the device back to be recycled free of charge.