30th Dec, 2016
In the UK, we buy on average three new electronic devices a year. That doesn’t sound like much, but then again, at last count (in 2013) there were 64.1 million of us. Give or take, that’s makes around 190 million electronic devices being purchased every year. What’s more, very few of them get properly recycled, or even properly disposed of. It’s no wonder electronic waste is one of the fastest growing types of waste in the world.
When hiring a skip, sometimes a lot of what goes into it is electronic waste. As you can probably guess, every electronic device is made up of thousands of tiny components, all of which function in a very specific way. It’s this complex construction that makes them so difficult to dispose of. Many of these components emit toxic chemicals if left unchecked, and their man-made nature means that electronic devices don’t degrade in the same way that, say, food waste does. E-waste can’t be simply incinerated either, as it releases lead, cadmium, toxic dioxins and furans into the atmosphere. (If you’re not sure what some of those are, just trust us when we say you don’t want to be breathing them.)
This kind of toxicity is just an example of what makes e-waste so troublesome, and one of the main reasons that it can’t be treated in regular recycling plants – not only does it harm the environment, but also the people who work there. There’s an unfortunate trend amongst developed countries (including, sadly, the UK) to ship e-waste to still developing countries, ultimately meaning that it’s sometimes handled and treated by unskilled workers, occasionally children.
In European Union member states, and other similarly advanced peers, the electronic waste collected during skip hire will often be taken to purpose-built recycling plants to be recycled under controlled conditions. This process is even more meticulous than traditional recycling, in order to keep the workers and surrounding area safe from toxic chemicals.
However, you’ll be pleased to hear that there are ways you can help.
At Skip Hire Network, we think our technological culture has a lot to answer for in terms of the steady stream of e-waste. Some of us are always fascinated by the latest phone, or the latest tablet, or the latest games console. There’s nothing wrong with that in itself, but it can contribute to a lot of items in perfect working order being needlessly disposed of for newer models. If you find yourself in this position, you might find it useful to know that there are endless uses for your old laptop or Kindle.
The first and most obvious option is resale, though you might not get much for them. Don’t be put off by aesthetic damage – you might find that as long as you’re upfront about it, many people are still perfectly happy to shell out for a discounted laptop, even if the screen is cracked in places. Accessories too – this includes things like batteries, chargers, keyboards and computer mice.
If you’re not able to sell them, or it’s not worth the money, local charities are always on the lookout for decent electronic gear. Charities like Computer Aid and Computers For Charities are excellent examples of organisations that can find good new homes for your electronics.
Batteries are prime examples of electronic waste that can be relatively easily recycled. As well as specialised plants dedicated to this purpose, many supermarkets (such as Asda) even provide bins for you to deposit your spent batteries, so that they can take care of the shipping for you. Meanwhile, local recycling centres often accept small e-waste products like lightbulbs, or at least can direct you to a place that does.
If your electronics are irrevocably broken, many manufacturers (like Samsung and Dell, to name just two) make a point of providing recycling services for their own products. It’s always worth checking, just in case. When you’re out of options, though, you’ll never be too far from facilities that can help recycle your e-waste properly, or at least send it somewhere that can. It’s prudent to save hiring a skip for bulkier, more easily recyclable materials. After all, it’s not just an environmental cost that e-waste inflicts – but sometimes a human one, too.
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