Electronic waste. (Shutterstock/DAMRONG RATTANAPONG)
According to the most recent report by the Global E-waste Monitor, which was drafted in partnership with the United Nations University, the average European generates 16.2 kilograms of e-waste (discarded electronics and electrical items) per year.
With all the accidents that befall smartphones and tablets, and the never-ending need for up-to-date computers and household appliances, our societies buy and throw away high-tech items at an astonishing rate.
Once discarded, this e-waste, as it is called, becomes a major environmental hazard. Here are some tips on how to correctly recycle unwanted electronics.
How about not buying items in the first place?
Before they become waste, electrical items and electronics have to be selected and purchased. And ahead of these transactions you should seriously be wondering about your need for them.
If you really cannot do without a new computer or a new phone for example, you can always opt to purchase a refurbished one.
At the same time, if the device you are replacing is still functional, you should either consider selling it or giving it away to a needy friend, or a charity that will sell it in your stead.
What about repairing the one you have got?
Repairing household machines can considerably delay their planned obsolescence.
In many cities, there are plenty of repair services that will put broken devices back on their feet for another few years. Alternatively, you might like to consider doing the work yourself. Even if you are not particularly technically minded, there is plenty of help at hand from video tutorials on the internet and burgeoning networks of Repair Cafés, where people come together to share information and expertise.
Finally, as a last resort, charities and recycling businesses will often repair items before they consider recycling them for scrap.
If there is no hope of bringing your device or machine back to life, you should never opt to put it in the trash.
No matter how big or small it is, whether it be a USB key or a washing machine, it is vitally important to take e-waste to an official collection point where it will be properly recycled.
Local authorities run collection points that are usually relatively convenient, especially for people who live in urban areas.
Many supermarkets are now also offering a range of collection services for small electronic items, as well as batteries and light bulbs. For bigger items, like white goods for example, consider purchasing your new machine from a supplier who will take the old one away and make sure that it is disposed of correctly.
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