There was a record 45 million tonnes of worldwide e-waste in 2016, according to a UN backed report. Only 8.9 million tonnes of this was collected and recycled, meaning most of it ended up as rubbish in landfills where toxic substances are left to leak into the environment. Businesses must accept a huge amount of blame in these unprecedented levels of e-waste, considering the amount of electronic equipment they use.
It is imperative that companies start to think carefully about how to reduce their e-waste. Here’s what your business can do to help combat the epidemic:
1. Properly dispose of all old electronic devices
One way to tackle the e-waste crisis is to properly dispose of old electronic devices, rather than throwing them into a landfill. It is difficult to recycle computers as most local authorities will not pick them up. However, many disposal companies provide a waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) recycling service, offering a useful way for businesses to correctly dispose of any old electronic devices.
As waste disposal company Clearance Solutions note on WEEE disposal, you have a duty of care when getting rid of electrical items to ensure that they have been disposed of correctly. WEEE recycling guarantees that you comply with this duty.
2. Donate or sell your old electronic devices
If you have fully functional electronic devices that are surplus to requirements in your own office, they may be of use elsewhere. Unless they are broken beyond repair, then it is worth donating or selling them to ensure they don’t go to waste. You could donate them directly to a local charity, library, or school, although it is worth considering that with computers, most organisations have very specific computer needs.
If your old computers are not a good fit, you could donate them to a refurbishing company instead, such as GreensafeIT, which is well equipped to upgrade the computer and pass it on to the right user. Similarly, there are a number of useful ways to sell any old electronic devices, with sites like eBay offering simple means of shifting such these unwanted items. This will give you a return on your device(s) as well as ensuring that they don’t go to waste.
3. Fix broken electrical equipment before buying new devices
It is worth assessing whether you need to replace a broken piece of equipment or if it can be fixed. Many businesses throw away their electronic devices at the first sign of them being faulty, creating unnecessary waste and spending large amounts of money in the process.
It’s worth contacting a repair company to assess the faulty equipment before making any decisions on whether you need a replacement. You could even think about repairing them yourself. Since 2009, a vast amount of repair cafes have popped up throughout the world, providing tools, materials and expert volunteers to help people make repairs to their items themselves.
4. Upgrade your equipment before getting rid of it
Rather than going through the entire repair process, faulty equipment may simply need an upgrade in software. For example, if you have a computer that is performing slowly or running out of memory, then it would be advisable to add memory and performance enhancing features to it. One way of doing this is to set up a RAID (redundant array of independent disks) that can improve performance by ‘placing data on multiple disks and allowing input/output operations to overlap in a balanced way’.
You should also consider deleting files to free up hard drive space, or uploading files to an external storage space, such as an online cloud service or a flash device. There are also a number of online troubleshooting websites that can help you with these performance issues.
5. Move to the cloud
Moving your entire computer system to the cloud can reduce the amount of electronic devices you need in the first place. Instead of having your servers, hardware and storage physically in your office, you would access them over the internet.
There will be times when a computer is beyond repair and you will need to replace it. When this situation arises, replace any bulky PC’s containing large hard drives with smaller desktops. This ensures that you do not need any physical space for memory, reducing the amount of equipment you need to get rid of whenever your computers do need replacing.