Preventing E-Waste with Circular Economy Principles
E-waste refers to electronic devices that have been disposed of because they are no longer required. Some may be malfunctioning; others may be broken. Many are in good working order but appear antiquated when compared to devices featuring the latest technology.
Whatever the reason for IT equipment being discarded, it can always be put to further use by companies following the circular economy.
What is the Circular Economy?
In theory, the circular economy makes long-term use of materials and products, resulting in zero waste. In practice, it involves the difficult task of changing the attitudes of people who have grown accustomed to a linear economy. This has been the process of sending objects directly to landfill sites due to them being broken or outdated, then replacing them with new products. It’s a consumer society that results in a vast amount of wasted resources and hazardous by-products.
When following a circular economy, products are recycled, refurbished and re-used. It’s a sustainable system that extends the working life of products including IT, allowing businesses to make the most of their budgets. They can purchase high-quality, powerful IT equipment at an affordable price.
E-Waste: A Global Problem
According to an article in Forbes, the United Kingdom discards approximately 155,000 tons of electronic devices every year. This includes up to 4.7 million smartphones that are sent with regular household waste to landfill sites. The Irish Times highlighted that Ireland’s e-waste increased in 2021 to around 22 kilograms per capita.
Landfill sites in Ireland and the UK have limited capacities. Many are already overflowing and available space is predicted to run out within the next five years. By following a Circular Economy model, the pressure of finding new landfill sites can be eased considerably. Wisetek operates a Zero Landfill Policy in order to minimise needless e-waste.
The Importance of Preventing E-Waste
Today’s society is dependent on technology at an unprecedented level. Many people fail to realise the detrimental impact they are having on the environment and their own health. IT equipment such as laptops, PCs, and portable devices contain many hazardous substances. These may include well-known pollutants such as lead, mercury, and chromium. Less familiar hazards include cadmium, cobalt and beryllium.
When left indefinitely in a landfill site, e-waste toxins are gradually released, polluting the soil, groundwater and atmosphere. Their effects can impact on health, causing many illnesses such as asthma, kidney disease and cancer. The impact on the environment is incalculable.
Recycling E-Waste Saves Rare Materials
All IT equipment, including laptops and tablets, is manufactured with a wide range of precious metals. Copper, gold, platinum and silver are used in components such as Central Processing Units (CPU).
One of the rarest metals on earth is cobalt which is essential for computer hard drives. When devices are sent to landfill sites, these precious metals are lost and new batches have to found. The circular economy ensures nothing is wasted, but it is recycled and effectively re-used.
Circular Economy Models Reduce Carbon Emissions
In most instances, recycling produces far less carbon emissions than processing raw materials. Aluminium, which is used for the casings of IT equipment, is a prime example. Its structure makes it an ideal metal for recycling without any loss of performance.
The recycling procedure takes approximately 95% less energy compared to processing it from brand-new ore. Recycling aluminium prevents nine tonnes of carbon emissions being released into the atmosphere.
A Responsibility to the Environment
Everyone, from individuals to IT managers, should be encouraged to follow a responsible attitude towards e-waste disposal. Large companies often replace all their IT equipment after five years to ensure stability and high performance.
Their e-waste could easily be put to good use through recycling initiatives. Powerful business laptops can easily be recycled, repaired and re-used. Instead of wasting valuable resources in an overcrowded landfill site, other businesses can purchase refurbished IT equipment at a greatly reduced cost.
Data Security and E-Waste Recycling
A major concern for many IT managers regarding the recycling of e-waste is data security. They often believe that sending hard drives to a landfill site is a risk-free method of protecting sensitive data. However, cyber-criminals regularly trawl through landfill sites in search of computer equipment. Hard drives are particularly difficult to damage, enabling criminal gangs to recover vast amounts of data that should have stayed out of their reach.
The most reliable solution of keeping data secure is to arrange for an accredited IT Asset Disposition company to recycle unwanted IT equipment. Highly secure methods such as overwriting are used to completely wipe data from the hard drive. Alternatively, the component itself can even be shredded.
The Importance of Choosing a Trustworthy E-Waste Disposal Company
Cyber security is of vital importance for businesses at all times. Legally, they are responsible for data protection beyond the lifetime of a device. It’s imperative that businesses only allow certified recycling companies to take charge if their e-waste. Only licenced companies can offer the level of security required for Data Destruction Services.
Wide Range of ITAD Services
When choosing a certified e-waste company, IT managers can have total confidence in a wide range of secure ITAD Services. They can be reassured that their unwanted IT equipment will become part of the circular economy and avoid valuable resources being wasted. Best of all, the equipment can be refurbished and resold.
Why Refurbished IT Equipment is in Demand
Refurbished laptops, PCs and portable devices give everyone the opportunity to purchase high performance IT equipment from top brands at a cost-effective price. Refurbished equipment has been meticulously inspected, repaired and tested until it functions like new. It provides new users with outstanding reliability.
Recycling IT equipment is a positive step in sharing resources, enabling prosperous companies to help people and businesses that have restricted budgets. Wisetek’s circular economy model includes refurbishment and remarketing through the Wisetek Store, where customers can purchase ‘as new’ refurbished electronics that are 100% sustainable.
Anyone purchasing a refurbished laptop can be confident the equipment is in excellent condition, and has been reliably repaired and tested. The devices are usually from well-established brands. Business laptops can deliver a superior performance compared to standard versions. When refurbished, they cost up to 80% less compared to purchasing brand new.
How to Minimise E-Waste Sustainably
Preventing e-waste should be an urgent priority for everyone. Through the circular economy and trustworthy companies such as Wisetek, recycling and refurbishing IT equipment benefits everyone. It protects the environment from hazardous substances and helps prevent disease. Wisetek’s Sustainable Earth initiative is one of our many commitments to environmental stewardship, which gives assurance and transparency to our valued customers.
Refurbishing IT devices saves valuable resources such as gold and cobalt from being lost. Recycling metals such as aluminium helps reduce carbon emissions. Purchasing a refurbished laptop offers great value, providing a high-quality performance at a cost-effective price.
Choose Wisetek for Sustainable ITAD Services
Preventing e-waste will likely require a concerted global effort, but every step taken towards reducing e-waste has measurable benefits for the environment and subsequently for organisations looking to become more sustainable. Wistek is your ideal ITAD partner for data destruction and hard drive disposal services that protect sensitive data whilst minimising needless e-waste.
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