E waste - get rid of it correctly

Old mobile phones and laptops are filling up the nation's cupboards. But where there's waste there's money, as the saying goes, and you could earn some for your old tech. And possibly more to the point, you'll be doing the planet a favour by recycling it

mobile phone cases may now be biodegradable, but phones alas aren't

You can now get biodegradable phone cases, but old phones alas are not biodegradable. So if you have a drawer load of old mobiles, take them to your local recycling centre. Just don't hoard them, nor put them out in the household rubbish or in household recycling boxes

Most of us replace our mobile phones every 2-3 years - but what do we do with our old one?  Let it gather dust in a cupboard?

We're continually updating our tech, which generates more than 50m tonnes of e-waste globally. Yet only 20 per cent of this is recycled, which means tons of increasingly rare precious minerals, such as copper, tellurium, lithium, cobalt, manganese and tungsten, are winding up in landfill sites.

Tech recycling specialists Envirofone say there are key common misconceptions many of us have surrounding recycling our E-waste.

It's acceptable to put E-Waste in regular bins

Unfortunately, this is wishful thinking. Local councils won’t separate your e-waste for you with a giant magnet. Everything you stick in that black bin bag will go straight into landfill. But wait. It gets worse. Occasionally, you might think, so what? It’s just one tiny phone in a big pile of rubbish. What you’re not thinking about is what happens when that phone starts to erode. Because when your phone decays in landfill, all the toxic minerals used to make the battery, microchips and wires leach into the ground, damaging the earth and contributing to the build-up of methane, a dangerous greenhouse gas. 

Recycling E-Waste is a data risk

Taking a few moments to ensure all sensitive information is cleared from your device can eliminate the risk of your data being stolen post-collection. Several apps and a variety of stand-alone software can be used for data wiping in ways that make your information wholly irretrievable or at least unusable after it’s sent for recycling.

Keeping old devices in a drawer or stored away is harmless

It’s easy to get carried away with hoarding old electronics. After all, it’s less threatening to the environment than dumping your used electronics into the trash and they are less likely to end up shipped to a developing country where it could cause even more harm.

However, the rare and valuable materials contained in electronics are essential keys to the economy of the recycling industry. More importantly, they could help wean industries off far less environmentally-sound recovery processes such as mining and fracking.

Landfill sites are so massive that small devices won’t make a difference

Although size does matter when it comes to electronics and landfills, the main point is that the hazardous contents of electronics, such as mercury and lead, can leak, leach and seep into the air and soil, leading to environmental and health issues. Hazardous substances may also eventually find a way to seep into groundwater, causing even more risk to public health.

Getting rid of e-waste is a hassle

E-waste disposal is simple. Most councils now have hoppers at their recycling centres specifically for e-waste. Or do a bit of online research and find a company that specialises in e-waste collection and recycling.

You may not think your old technology is worth much, however you may be pleasantly surprised. By providing a few simple details to a tech recycling specialist you'll get a quote for your unwanted technology and it will be refurbished and off to a new home in no time.