Televisions and computers remain serviceable for 10 years at most; at the rapid pace at which technology progresses, these devices sometimes become unusable even before their 10 years are up.
Updating your electronics can be good for the environment in one way. New electronic devices are usually more energy-efficient than older units. You can save on your energy bills upgrading your computers to more energy-efficient models (for even more savings, you can find new, cost-effective energy contracts at comparison services such as http://www.ukpower.co.uk/home_energy/compare_electricity.
At one time, when product cycles were much slower, old electronics did have value. You could sell them used. Today, you have few alternatives. Often, the best that you can do is to dispose of them in a way that doesn’t harm the environment.
Environmental harm is a serious concern to keep in mind when discarding old electronics. A significant quantity of hazardous chemicals goes into their manufacture – mercury, lead and chlorine, among others. The presence of these chemicals in electronic scrap makes dumping them in landfills a bad idea. It’s illegal, too. Over time, these chemicals can get into the water table.
What the law says about how you should go about discarding electronics
Even if you’ve never heard of the Waste electrical and electronic equipment directive (Weee), you’ve probably seen the logo on many electronic items – the outline pictorial of a wheeled dumpster with a largeX on top. The Weee came into effect in 2007. Under this directive, every store selling electronic or electrical goods is either required to take back old electronics that customers bring in (only customers buying similar items new qualify) or at least contribute to setting up a Weee collection point. The Weee directive offers other possibilities. Many local councils run electronic waste collection schemes. To find out if your local council offers electronic waste collection, you need to either approach it directly or take a look at the Environment Agency website for information – http://www.environment-agency.gov.uk
Recycle Now is a service that offers recycling facilities and gives you information on local recyclers. Not only does the service show you how to recycle your electronic waste, it handles food waste, clothing waste, furniture waste and dozens of other kinds of landfill material. If your computer is serviceable even if it’s old, you can simply send it to an underdeveloped country to donate to poor organizations. Computer Aid is one of several services that help coordinate old computer donations.
Make sure you clean up your old computers before donating them
Computers contain plenty of personal data – credit card numbers, bank account information and so on. It isn’t easy to truly erase hard disks of this information. Many people carelessly giving improperly cleaned computers away risk having scammers taking advantage of the information on them. Before you donate a computer, you should make sure that all personal information related to your family is removed. Many software products help you securely completely erase all traces of personal information on old computers.
Going to one of the electronics chains for your recycling needs
Amazon UK, PC World and other large retailers have Weee-mandated recycling schemes in place. When you need to recycle an old electronic item, stores like PC World easily take them back; you do need to buy a similar item from them to qualify though. If you just want to recycle your device without buying a new one, Amazon has many recycling centers across the country that you can take your device to.
Recycling old devices is free
Recycling old computers and devices doesn’t cost anything. It can cost you something to have your device collected, though.
Harry Lawrance often writes about the environment and the things we can do everyday to help protect it.