There is a growing e-waste problem in the UK, and something needs to be done.

Most people love to get something new; something bang up to date. A laptop, phone or tablet. The latest 60” smart TV taking pride of place in the living room. But what happens to our old, unwanted gadgets that were once exciting, shiny new toys? The quick answer – we get rid of them.

According to one report, we produced 53.6 million tonnes of e-waste globally in 2019, a 21% increase in just five years and the UK is in the top ten of e-waste producers per capita, generating almost 24kg per head and throwing over 150,000 tonnes of electrical waste in household bins every year. In fact, if action is not taken, the UK will soon rival Norway, the current leading producer of e-waste in Europe per capita, and we are on course to become the biggest e-waste producer by 2024. And that’s not something to brag about.

So why is there such a big e-waste problem? The simple answer is education. As a nation, we just don’t know what to do with our old technology. Over one quarter of us don’t know how to recycle redundant electrical items, with almost half of us admitting to having cupboards full of cables, hubs, printers and old phones.

What’s more, the demand for technology is increasing every year, even more so recently due to remote working. Add to this our obsession with having the latest gadgets and it’s clear that the e-waste problem in the UK is only going to get worse.

What Can Be Done?

Repair, reuse, recycle. It’s that simple. At Asset-Disposal, we love to give tech devices a second life wherever possible, which is why we’ll always try to repair or reuse any IT equipment before consigning it to the recycling pile. And should it be repairable or reusable, you can rest assured that we will destroy all sensitive data using our UK NCSC approved data erasure methods.

As a nation, we can also become more aware of our buying habits. Do we really need the latest piece of tech, that unmissable gadget? If our current equipment is up to the task, why replace it? It’s clear that the tech giants producing the equipment are always trying to innovate, to produce something they market as being life-changing, but just how much better will it really be?

All of the above applies to the domestic market as well. Don’t be in such a rush to replace. Reuse wherever possible, even if it means donating to charity, a loved one or a friend. Failing that, local recycling centres have a dedicated area for IT waste – just make sure you have taken the required steps to remove your data. If you’re unsure, consult an expert.

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