Electronic or electrical waste is a growing problem across Australia. Here’s what you can do to make a difference by reducing e-waste in your workplace.
It’s hard to imagine where we would be without smartphones, laptops, smart TVs and tablets, and all the other technological devices we use every day at home and at work. And there are vast technological improvements being made all the time, so our reliance on technology isn’t going to go away. But one big negative about our use of so much technology is e-waste. Our reliance on technological devices has created a massive e-waste problem around the globe and it’s something we need to address if we’re serious about looking after our planet and our future. Here are eight easy ways you can reduce e-waste in your workplace.
What is e-waste?
Quite simply, e-waste is electronic or electrical waste created when we discard electrical and electronic equipment. So, everything from that broken phone charger through to the old TV you’ve just upgraded is classified as e-waste.
What is the problem with e-waste?
Waste of any type is always a problem unless it’s managed correctly. And that’s exactly the issue with e-waste. People know that they should be doing something about it, that they should be thinking more carefully about how they dispose of their old electrical items, but most people don’t know what they can do about it and how to dispose of these items properly so that they don’t end up in a landfill.
E-waste ending up in landfills is disastrous for us on many different levels.
The first issue with e-waste is that toxic materials end up in landfills where they can potentially pollute the soil and could pollute nearby water sources. Electronics and electrical equipment are manufactured using many different chemicals and substances, many of which won’t break down in landfills and some of them are toxic.
There is a limit to the resources we have available on the planet and so it’s wasteful and short-sighted to throw away resources that could be recycled. Recycling old equipment is less expensive than mining for new metals to make completely new items.
So, what can you do about minimising e-waste? How can you play your part?
How to minimise e-waste in your business
1) Buy good quality devices
Buy good quality electronic devices and electrical equipment for your business. Take a long-term view of every purchase and buy the device or the equipment that is going to last the distance. That cheap device might save you money right now but if you’re going to need to replace it in 18 months’ time because it’s no longer working, then it’s a false economy because you’ve got to spend money replacing it, and you’re adding to the e-waste issue.
If you can extend the useful life of every device in your business by buying smarter and purchasing good quality appliances, then you’ll soon see a reduction in the amount of e-waste in your business.
2) Buy the newest model you can afford
It’s tempting to buy the computer that’s on special because it’s been superseded. But before you do so, check that you’re not compromising on any technological advances by purchasing the superseded model. Because if you are missing out on important advances in technology, then you’d be better to buy the new model if you can afford it. And that’s because it’s going to last longer and will have a longer useful life in your business.
3) Investigate trade-in options
Whenever you’re buying a new device, see if you can trade-in the old one. It can mean a bit of cashback in the bank to offset the new purchase and it also means that your old device will be recycled or disposed of responsibly as part of the manufacturer or retailer’s e-waste program.
If your device isn’t working and therefore has no trade-in value, still ask your retailer if they can recycle it for you. Some will be happy to do this, and others will charge a small fee for the service, but regardless it’s helping you reduce your own e-waste footprint.
4) Recycle where you can
Many organisations and retailers offer recycling programs for small e-waste items such as old mobile phones, batteries, chargers, cables, and printer cartridges. Check out who is offering these drop-offs in your area and make sure to take your unwanted e-waste to these places.
5) Set up an e-waste recycling program at work
Your staff faces the same problems with their personal e-waste as you do within the business. Set up a place at work where people can drop their small e-waste items such as batteries, charger cables, and printer cartridges as these can be easily dropped to your local e-waste recycling point. You’ll be doing your team and the planet, a favour!
6) Make use of your council e-waste recycling program
Most local councils will have a program in place for recycling large e-waste items such as computer monitors, TVs, refrigerators, and other large appliances.
7) Limit the number of devices you own
Think about the number of devices you own and whether you really need to purchase that new piece of equipment. Do your team really need both laptops and tablets? If so, then perhaps swap to a laptop that is a dual purpose to minimise the number of devices in your workplace.
8) Get your electrical equipment tested regularly
One of the best ways to minimise your e-waste is by extending the life of your current appliances. Getting your electrical appliances regularly tested and tagged not only helps with electrical safety but also helps you maintain the appliance, so you get as much use out of it as possible. Testing your appliance can also identify faults early so that you can have an appliance repaired rather than needing to get it replaced.