What is the problem?
Technological and digital innovation has increased rapidly in recent years, along with the ability to manufacture goods at a low cost. Both factors have led to technological devices being more accessible and affordable. According to the most recent Connected Consumer Survey from Google and TNS Infratest, 30% of people in the UK own five or more connected devices. This is a huge increase from 2017, where one in ten people reported that they did not own a single one. Although this has had positive impacts on some parts of our lives, there has been one unintended detrimental consequence: E-waste.
What is E-waste?
Also known as WEEE (waste electrical or electronic equipment), E-waste is defined as “computers, phones and other electronic products that are thrown away because they are old or broken” – Cambridge online dictionary.
What most people are not aware of is the amount of precious metals and useful materials that are contained within technological products such as these. By being unable to see the worth of used electronic equipment, or by being unsure of how to dispose of them, it has become common practice to throw such products away. E-waste such as this can either end up in landfill or being exported to developing countries illegally.
Currently only a few countries have a way of uniformly measuring this E-waste, as it can come from various sources: households, businesses, and governments. It was believed in 2018 that “the world produces as much as 50 million tonnes of electronic and electrical waste (e-waste) a year, weighing more than all of the commercial airliners ever made.”  This is a staggering amount of waste! And the news gets worse. If we carry on throwing away our used electronic products, “global e-waste production is on track to reach 120 million tonnes per year by 2050”.  This means the amount of E-waste we produce will more than double in the space of 32 years.
What are the effects of E-waste?
E-waste has destructive effects both on the environment and the economy. “Only 20% of E-waste is documented to have been collected and recycled” . That leaves 80% going straight to landfill or being exported to developing countries, in turn, increasing carbon emissions. As used products are being thrown away, the need for new ones to be manufactured increases, resulting in more carbon emissions being produced from the process of extracting new materials from the Earth. We are wasting money by throwing away these used products, and spending more money on making new ones.
How can we solve the problem?
The simple answer? Reuse.
Here at Servers and Spares, we sell refurbished equipment and by you choosing this option over new goods, you are helping to contribute to a circular economy where materials are valued and reused whilst doing your bit to create a greener environment. Components and materials can keep their highest value which can have great economic benefits as less money is spent on producing new goods. This also means that the product itself will be of a lower cost than those being sold as new. However, this does not mean that you are receiving a product of lower quality. We ensure that every item we send out works just as well as a new product. Often, you can also get the same amount of warranty for refurbished good as with new, so customers have the same peace of mind. This is great news for you! By utilising the components of used electrical products, we can extend its lifespan, therefore reducing the amount of E-waste going to landfill and reducing the need for extracting raw materials from the Earth.
In conclusion, E-waste is a huge problem in our current society which is having detrimental effects on both the environment and the economy. To work towards a greener environment, we should aim to contribute to a circular economy. As a business, Servers and Spares are working towards this goal by providing refurbished goods for our customers. As a customer, you can help us by choosing to purchase refurbished goods rather than brand new.
Let us work together to build a greener future.
[1,2,3] A New Circular Vision for Electronics, Time for a Global Reboot, PACE, January 2019, http://www3.weforum.org/docs/WEF_A_New_Circular_Vision_for_Electronics.pdf
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