Recycling Old and Unwanted Electronics


Recycling is everywhere these days, with all of our paper, bottles and cans being carefully sorted and brought back to use in an almost never ending cycle. Recycling makes a lot of sense, both economically, as well in terms of its benefits to the environment, but as our awareness about keeping our planet clean has grown, so too have the amount of products that are being routinely recycled. Once upon a time, when we filled a skip with trash from a building project, garden waste or from a garage spring clean, the whole lot found its way into a landfill, polluting the surrounding earth and contaminating the waterways. Today, we are recycling massive amounts of used electronics, from old appliances like fridges and washing machines, to mobile phones and old laptops, which contain very valuable resources.

Valuable and Toxic Materials

Electronic equipment uses a variety of metals, which unlike many plastics are infinitely recyclable, such as tin, aluminium, iron and copper as well as some precious metals such as gold, which is found in electronics at a rate substantially higher than when being dug from the earth. It is therefore cheaper in many circumstances to reuse these second hand materials as opposed to using new ones, further draining the earth’s resources. Electronics also contain toxic substances such as mercury, cadmium, chromium and radioactive isotopes, not to mention lead, which can make up as much as 6% of a computer monitor. Previously, all of these material ended up in landfills, and a significant amount of lead found there, has come from electronic, or e-waste.

Electronics Recycling Legislation

The European Union in 2003, introduced the Waste Electrical Equipment Directive (WEEE), within which is a directive called the Producer Compliance Scheme, whereby electronics manufacturers contribute to a scheme which funds recovery and recycling from waste treatment facilities. While there are now many electronics recyclers in the UK, the majority of them will charge a fee for the collection and treatment of used electronics. It is worth shopping around if you need to dispose of used goods, as some places, assisted by the WEEE fund, such as a company offering electronics recycling in Yeovil, will not only take it away free of charge, but guarantee to wipe clean all sources of data.

What You Can Do

Many of us upgrade our phones, TVs and computers on a fairly regular basis, along with many other consumer electronics, generating incredible numbers of used equipment. It is not acceptable to simply throw that broken telephone in the bin. The socially acceptable thing to do, is check the Internet for your local electronics recyclers’ and simply give them a call to come and pick whatever it is up, knowing it will be disposed of and recycled in accordance with the law.

Manufacturers of Electronics pay into a scheme that funds its recovery from household waste recycling centres (HWRCs)) and nominated Waste Treatment Facilities (known as Obligated WEEE).

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