One the fastest growing waste items in landfills is electronic waste, or e-waste. Discarded phones, tablets, laptops and televisions are piling up at a rapid rate, and their mix of components and materials makes them difficult to recycle – but it can be done.
For most people, their old phones and gadgets end up in a drawer or a box because ‘you never know when you might need it again’. Throwing these electronics in the bin is also a bad option because they can end up causing harm to the environment if they are not handled properly.
Battery acid and other materials in these devices can leak out and create big problems if they contaminate groundwater. Instead of letting them collect dust in your home or cause harm to the environment, why not spend some time and prepare them for proper recycling?
There are valuable materials in your electronic goods; gold, silver, copper and other precious metals. These materials can be reused in other gadgets and offer a more sustainable solution to the huge demand of electronic manufacturers.
How to prepare your electronic goods for recycling
The first step to getting any device ready for the recycling facility is to ensure that you have all of your data backed up. Save anything you need and then perform a factory reset on the device to wipe the memory of all your private information.
All smartphones are able to do a factory reset, and most laptops and computers can too. Alternatively, you can erase the drives or use software such as Eraser to permanently delete files from your computer.
Next, be sure to remove any SD cards, SIM cards and other plug-in devices that may be hidden. Your gadget is now ready for the recycling plant, or you could sell it if it’s still in an acceptable condition.
Finding the right recycling facility
Not all recycling facilities are equal, and not all of them can process e-waste. Make sure you find a local facility that accepts e-waste and has the right equipment to process your gadgets. You can ask your local council or waste management provider to find out where to take your old gadgets.
Certain retail stores, such a Makro, Woolworths and Pick n Pay, run campaigns to collect and recycle old e-waste, so keep an eye out for these events and initiatives as well. There are also a number of drop-off points in Gauteng and the Western Cape where you can take your old electronics.
Another option is to take your old electronics back to the supplier. Often, Apple Stores and computer shops will take back their old products and have them recycled for you. You can visit their website first and check if they accept discarded goods.
If recycling is not your preferred option, then think about donating your gadgets if they still work. There are hundreds of NGOs and charities that could use working computers, laptops and old smartphones. Do a quick Google search for any charities in your area and phone them to ask if they are looking for second-hand electronic goods.
Whether you decide to recycle, sell or donate, your old devices still have value. Rather than keeping them in a drawer or letting them sit in a landfill, make use of their value and dispose of them in a smart, environmentally-friendly way.
Averda is a leading waste management provider with over 50 years of experience across three continents. Through growth, transformation and engagement, we strive to find new ways of managing waste while protecting the community and environment.
By pairing international expertise with local insights, we have secured our position as one of South Africa’s most respected providers of waste management and industrial cleaning services. We also operate in the recycling, infrastructure inspection, hydro-demolition, high-pressure water jetting and catalyst handling industries.
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