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What is E-Waste and 5 ways to minimize it

E-waste is the latest buzzword making its way around the internet. From blogs to newspaper articles, everybody seems to be talking about E-waste. But what is it? Electronic waste, or “E-waste” refers to discarded electronic and electrical devices, such as mobile phones, laptops, printers, desktop computers, and other household appliances such as refrigerators and washing machines. E-waste is generated through devices reaching the end of their life or consumers upgrading and trading up to newer models.

As technology advances, consumers constantly seek out the latest and greatest devices, which means E-waste has started to emerge as one of the biggest contributors in landfills. There is always a newer phone, tablet or computer to be had, along with their updated chargers, headphones and other accessories. However, older models are discarded and not much thought is given to where they end up. 

A report published by the UN in 2019 stated that globally, as much as 50 million tons of e-waste is produced every year. That number is projected increase to an astonishing 120 million tons by the year 2050 if current trends continue. The report also states that less than 20% of E-waste is formally recycled, with 80% ending up in landfill or being recycled incorrectly. This in turn creates its own set of issues for the environment such as land and water contamination.

The mass amounts of E-waste that doesn’t get recycled could be attributed to the fact that a lot of people don’t know how to properly dispose of their devices or even how to minimize their E-waste in general. Reducing the amount of E-waste as a consumer isn’t as difficult as it sounds. Sure, it’s not as simple as separating our waste into two different bins, but trust us, you can do it!

Here are 5 easy ways we can all minimize our E-waste:

  1. Be realistic about your need for new devices.
New phones in the shop - Be realistic about your need for new devices.

It’s very tempting to lust over the newest iPhone, laptop or even smart fridge! But is there actually anything wrong with the device or appliance you already have? Laptops especially are easy enough to have repaired and working as good as new without getting a new one. If you have an old laptop laying around, take it to a repair shop and have the hard drive replaced for a newer one and then clear out any old documents, pictures and downloads to free up some storage. Your old laptop will be working as good as new! Consider whether you really need a new device or just want one because it’s new.

  1. Repurpose old devices.
Phone capturing living room -Repurpose old devices

Got an old phone laying around? Maybe an old tablet or even an old microwave. Think about what else you can use the device for. If old phones are still in working order then you could use them to play music, watch YouTube videos, store old photos, as a GPS, or even to just call and text. An old kitchen appliance could be taken apart, the working gadgets recycled or given to a workshop to reuse while the body of the appliance could be used for storage. An old fridge is a great storage unit!

  1. Donate!
E-waste - Adult giving a phone to a kid - Donate your old electronic devices

If you aren’t on the market for an upgrade or a trade, donating your old devices and appliances is definitely the way to go. There are many different ways you could donate. Of course there are second hand stores that would happily accept your donations but beyond that, think about who else could use your device. Do you have a younger sibling or cousin who is in school and could use an old phone or laptop for their studies? Maybe you have a friend who is moving houses and needs a TV or some second hand appliances for their kitchen. You could even donate your old phones to people in need on the streets or overseas. Check with your local charities to see if there are any programs in place in your area.

  1. Take care of your devices and electronics.
Broken phone's screen e-waste - take care of your devices and electronics

One major reason that causes people to consume electronics at a rapid rate is lack of care. Dropping a phone and smashing the screen doesn’t mean the phone needs to be replaced. Use screen protectors, shock absorbing phone cases, and store your electronics in a safe place to ensure they aren’t being dropped or falling off high surfaces. Similarly with home electronics and appliances, clean them and have them serviced regularly and take advantage of any warranties that come with the device. Prolonging the life of our electronics is one of the easiest ways to reduce E-waste.

  1. Recycle and trade in your devices with Beneko.
New Beneko phones - recycle and trade-in your devices with Beneko

Beneko is an all-in-one, Eco-friendly App and marketplace where you will find the best deals on your favorite technology while never paying full price. So if you are on the hunt for an upgrade or a new device, then consider sustainable marketplaces. Users of Beneko have the freedom to return their products at any time while only paying for what they use. They also have peace of mind knowing they can responsibly recycle their old electronics and resell their used devices in just a few easy steps. Our model follows the philosophy of shop, use, return, repeat. This allows us to reduce e-waste by giving a second and third life to devices before they become fully recycled. It’s a win-win.

By following these few simple steps and each playing our part, we can take steps towards reducing the amount of E-waste that ends up in our landfills and oceans. It’s not as difficult as it sounds! 

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