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11th October 2022

How Can We Reduce E Waste For More Sustainable Computing?

Sofia Cross

Sustainable computing practices like those cultivated by Devices for Teams could be an answer to the UK’s e waste problem.

Devices for Teams has been creating a collection of proactive strategies to ensure that we can aid businesses in achieving sustainable computing methods.

Let’s first look at the situation of e waste in the UK.recycle logo with devices inside

What is E Waste?

E waste is electronic waste. It comprises broken or discarded electronic products, parts, and components.

Examples of electronic waste could be parts of computers, tablets, smartphones, televisions, ovens, fridges, washing machines etc. Many household goods and items can become e waste at the end of their lifecycle.

Anything with cords, plugs or any electronic components can be classed as e waste.

How Bad Is The E Waste Problem In The UK?

The UK is one of the worst contributors to e waste on the continent. Studies show that we could become the biggest contributor to e waste in Europe over the next three years.

The UK produced 1.6 million tonnes of e waste in 2019. Each year the amount is growing with a sharp acceleration in e waste production per year over the past few years. Globally e waste is about 53.6 million tonnes.

It is predicted that the amount of e waste per person will grow by 24.5kg each by 2024.

Currently, only about 2.5% – 10% of electronics in the UK are reused.

Why Is E Waste Dangerous For The Environment?

Since only about a maximum of 10% of e waste is reused, the vast majority ends up in landfills. The decimates the land, taking away habitat from wildlife and removing what’s left of the UK’s shrinking natural places.

Not only is it unsightly for humans but there are significant ramifications for our health, the planet, and our ecosystem as a whole that goes far beyond an aesthetic problem.

waste damaging the environmentThe components of e waste do not break down easily, but they do break down in time with damaging effect on the soil, water, and subsequently human health as it gets into our food chain and water supply. There are many toxic chemicals in the components of computers and other electronics. Changing temperatures, rain and the sun over landfills slowly warps the materials of electronics. These toxic chemicals escape and leach into the soil.

As the toxins make their way into the soil, they also enter water systems and affect our crops. This is called bioleaching.

PVC, mercury, cadmium, barium, and bromine are all chemicals that break down in a toxic way to human health and are found in e waste, very frequently in computers. Some smartphones also contain neodymium, europium, and cerium. Ingesting these at high levels is extremely dangerous. Consuming all these chemicals could slowly damage your nerves and reproductive systems.

Many substances in computers are rare earth minerals. This means to make those products they had to be mined. Mining has serious consequences for the environment, plants, and animals.

Worst still about 40% of the UK’s e waste is illegally exported to other countries and dumped in very unsafe ways that can cause damage to local communities.

What Is Sustainable Computing?

Sustainable computing is all about the sourcing and consumption of computer products in a way that vastly reduces the impact of computing on the environment.

It would include using computing equipment that has a net zero impact on the environment in terms of emissions in the manufacture and usage of the device. It should also involve minimal physical pollution, AKA, reduced e waste.

How Can Sustainable Computing Reduce E Waste?

There are a number of sustainable computing practices that Devices for Teams has adopted to help reduce e waste:

  • Recycling – Devices for Teams don’t simply lease devices, we care for the whole device lifecycle, including their removal and recycling using the greenest methods, so there are fewer parts at landfills.preloved greener teams
  • Repairing – Our expert team can extend the life of hardware with detailed repair, so they last longer, or their working parts can be repurposed within other devices.
  • Repurposing (Pre-Loved Devices) – To extend the use and life of devices, Devices for Teams leases high quality pre-loved devices to prevent more electronics from ending up in landfills.
  • Boomerang – To ensure you get the best use out of your devices, our DaaS Premium package has the special Boomerang feature. If an employee leaves, you can easily repurpose it to another staff member by Devices for Teams wiping and then reconfiguring the device to the new staff member’s accounts and apps.
  • Packaging Policies – Devices for Teams uses reduced packaging and highly recyclable packaging.
  • Identifying and Recommending Greener DevicesDevices for Teams work with manufacturers who are dedicated to more sustainable computing. We also access every device using a variety of ecolabels to ascertain exactly how green a piece of hardware is by a multitude of credentials. Lenovo ThinkPads, Apple MacBooks and FairPhones are some of our most environmentally friendly hardware.devices for greener teams

Why Should Businesses Take Sustainable Computing Seriously?

In addition to the concern of e waste, and the subsequent landscape impact and health impact, sustainable computing also reduces greenhouse gas emissions.

The government has set a target of 2050 for net zero and is fining certain sectors that do not make measurable proactive changes to reach net zero. The government has been taking a harsher stance against negative environmental impact, so we expect to see more legislation, possibly against e waste soon.

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