Earth Day 2022: Experts reveal 5 simple ways to help cut e-waste

This Earth Day learn what to do with unused tech

By Fiona Evans
Friday, 22nd April 2022, 11:34 am
Use Earth Day 2022 to consider five small changes that can help to cut e-waste (photo: musicMagpie)
Use Earth Day 2022 to consider five small changes that can help to cut e-waste (photo: musicMagpie)

Ever wondered what happens to that old console you tossed away?

Or maybe you have an unopened draw, full of unused phones you keep meaning to utilise for the greater good.

Every time we replace a phone, iPad, laptop or console, our old technology can contribute to the e-waste problem unless it is recycled correctly.

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And the issue is no small matter; one report predicted that in 2022 the world will generate almost 60 million metric tonnes of e-waste.

MusicMagpie, a leader in the re-commerce of consumer technology, estimates that the UK alone produces more than 133,141 tonnes of e-waste each month - that's the equivalent weight of at least 70,000 scrapped cars.

“It can be really difficult to know what to do with your unused technology," said Sam Vesey, group chief sustainability officer at musicMagpie.

"While keeping hold of your old devices might seem like the best solution, they will depreciate in value and become obsolete, and are therefore more likely to end up in landfill as e-waste.

“When we asked the public about their understanding of the e-waste problem, we found that 79 percent of people were unfamiliar with e-waste and nearly a third didn’t believe it damaged the environment.

“It is clear that more needs to be done to educate the public about the full extent of the issues surrounding e-waste and the small changes we can all be making to help prevent unused tech ending up in landfill and damaging the environment.”

This Earth Day (April 22), musicMagpie has shared five small changes to help make our devices last longer, limit the amount of e-waste we are producing and help us all live a little bit more sustainably:

1 Clear out your drawers

Research carried out by musicMagpie found that UK adults reported having a whopping 11 unused devices gathering dust somewhere in their home.

Not only could selling your old technology make you some money, but it can help to give your devices a second life.

Even if you think your device isn’t going to be of any real value, the parts and materials it contains such as copper, aluminium and gold, are; recycling your device can allow them to be reused and it prevents new resources from having to be extracted from the earth.

Every year, musicMagpie gives a new life to more than 400,000 consumer tech items. It refurbishes 95 percent of the products it receives and uses the parts from the remaining five percent to refurbish other products.

2 Take care of your technology

It might sound simple but one of the easiest ways to reduce the amount of e-waste being produced is to treat your technology with care and do your best to ensure your actions aren’t placing added stress on your devices.

Sam said: “When it comes to looking after your devices it doesn’t need to take lots of time or money, for phones or an iPad it can be as easy as investing in a shock-proof case and screen protector to help minimise some of the everyday wear and tear our devices experience.”

Looking after your devices means that they will likely last for longer, naturally reducing the amount of e-waste being produced, and will mean they are worth more when the time comes to trade them in too.

3 Buy refurbished

If you want to upgrade your device, buying a refurbished phone is a great way of supporting the circular economy, reducing the demand for new products. This in turn allows precious resources to be reused and saves on the CO2 associated with creating new tech.

“When the time comes to upgrade your technology, buying refurbished devices is a really easy way to help prevent e-waste and reduce CO2 emissions compared to buying new," said Sam.

“Refurbished devices tend to be a lot cheaper than their new counterparts and have gone through rigorous checks to make sure they are in good working order. You’ll often get a free warranty with your refurbished tech, meaning if there are any technical defects or faults caused by improper workmanship or materials, it will be fixed or replaced free of charge.”

4 Consider skipping the upgrade

Short upgrade cycles are one of the main factors contributing to the levels of e-waste being produced today.

Not just accepting an upgrade when your contract is up can make a big difference when it comes to the amount of e-waste being produced.

By taking a little time to consider how much you will benefit from a new device and what features you’re most excited about, you’ll be able to make sure you are making the decision that is best for you - and maybe the environment.

“Not only can waiting a little longer to upgrade save you money but it can also mean you can get a phone that meets your needs for a more competitive price," said Sam.

"If you don’t think you need the newest handset on the market, you could consider choosing a refurbished handset that is more up-to-date than what you are currently using and could be perfect for your needs.

“We know that some people will always want to be able to experience the latest device and if that is the case, we would suggest renting your device. This will allow you to upgrade your device after 12 months and ensure that your old device goes back into circulation for the next person to use.”

Whether looking to upgrade to the latest device on the market or something a little older, always remember to trade in your unwanted devices.

5 Invest in technology that is built to last

When it comes to investing in technology, it is important to ensure that you are purchasing good quality gadgets that won’t break after a couple of uses.

“While we all love a bargain, if something seems too good to be true then it probably is - especially when it comes to electronics," said Sam.

“If you need to upgrade or replace any of your technology, we would always recommend considering a refurbished product first - to help combat the e-waste problem directly. With that said, if you really need to buy something brand new, always look for products with good reviews that have been made to last.”

For more information on the amount of e-waste being produced globally and what you can do to limit your impact, visit: https://www.musicmagpie.co.uk/our-planet-vs-e-waste/