Ask Tech Effect: Why Should I Recycle My Old Technology?
Everyone loves buying new technology. It’s a wonderful feeling when we have the latest and greatest technology in our hands, ready to change our lives for the better.
But what most people don’t think about when they buy new technology is what happens when it becomes old and starts getting weaker. We all know that old technology has to be replaced by newer models, but we don’t think about where it goes when we don’t need it anymore.
The thought that most of us have is to throw away our technology when it’s done. Where else could it go? It’s not like we can recycle it by putting it with our paper and plastics, right?
When you do that though, your old technology gets sent straight to a landfill. That’s not always the best thing to do, because you have technology sitting in a landfill, around piles of trash, doing nothing.
Now if you were the only person doing that, it wouldn’t be a big problem (still a problem, not a big one), but when you have people around the world doing this to their technology, that means there’s a lot of technology sitting in landfills, doing nothing.
We live in a society where technology is abundant, and that’s a good thing. But as we’re also in a world where resources are shrinking and we may run into a situation where our lack of technological advancement isn’t limited by our knowledge, but our ability to make new technology.
This is a real problem, especially if you are wondering how you are going to grow your business or what to buy for your family. While it doesn’t look like this is a problem that will affect us in the near future, there may be a point where no new technology can be created, which should worry everyone.
Think about it: it would be bad for your business if you suddenly ran out of the resources required to run your business. It would be terrible for many people involved. Thinking about the future is an important exercise, whether it is about your profit or long term sustainability.
When you work towards the long term sustainability of the environment and the world around you, you can confidently tell and show your customers that you truly do care for them in the long term.
Is This A Real Threat?
Perhaps you think recycling is a gigantic hoax, or that recycling only one piece of technology like your phone won’t make a difference in the long run.
It’s certainly an understandable feeling. It’s hard to want to make a difference when your contribution feels so small. It’s even worse when no one else is doing it, because you feel that what you are doing is socially strange.
In a world where computer manufacturers and phone companies seem to be releasing limitless amounts of technology, this sounds like a fake problem, or one that won’t seem to apply to people.
To an extent, you’d be right. This isn’t a problem that will affect you in the coming months. It might not even seem like a problem that will happen in the next few years.
But almost no one running a business would love to run into a point where they are told there are material shortages and thus have to deal with increased prices.
Making a computer, for example, requires a lot materials. Rare earth metals, in particular, are needed to build electronic technology, and a lot of that goes into making the parts that make a computer process information, run programs and store memory.
Despite the name, rare earth metals aren’t actually “rare”, however, there is no doubt that we have a limited supply of them. Yes, we might be popping out new gadgets at an extremely fast rate, and we can always tinker with electronics, but the truth is that this won’t last forever.
There’s no way to create the metals we use out of thin air. We have to mine them from the ground, and while there is still a lot of metal, there’s still a limited supply.
Not all parts of technology may be recyclable too. Sometimes the amount of material used is so small that it might be considered not worth recycling (although with proper recycling methods, this isn’t always the case).
So yes, we may reach a point where you might not be able to get the latest phone, or the fact that you might be buying business technology at a higher price.
But No One Cares!
Of course, you might still be saying that even though it is actually possible to run out of materials to make technology, no one cares as we will magically pull a solution out of the air anyway.
That’s not possible, to be honest. But companies are starting to realize that this is a real problem and are acting on it.
Not only is e-waste (electronic waste) a recognizable problem to the IT industry, but companies are actively looking to reduce it and help the environment in some way.
Apple is currently running a recycling program to recycle its phones to make new ones. You even have companies recycling their used server parts to cut down on e-waste. Companies like Ynvolve are also working to cut down on e-waste and protect our environment.
So people do care, and they also know that the answer to the problem isn’t just to wait until we have no technology to do something about it. They are acting now, while a solution is in reach and there is time to get there.
So What Can I Do?
Take a good look at the technology that you still have. If you don’t need it anymore, there are a few options.
First and foremost, remove ALL of your data on the technology. This means factory settings, resets and any other data removal you need to do. Unless you’re sending it to the manufacturer themselves (in which case they will most likely do this for you), you’re not sure who might have access to the phone before recycling.
Look For Companies/Stores That Take Old Technology
Society is well aware that you can’t recycle technology like you do with other items like paper or plastic. That’s why there are companies and stores, especially the manufacturers, who will help you recycle your used and out-of-warranty technology for you.
You might have to look around a bit, but everyone is trying to do their part to help the environment. Some stores might even be able to give you some money back for your old technology, which is great if your device was out of warranty and you need some extra money (won’t be a lot, but better than nothing).
There are even some recycle bins for phones that exist outside of office supply stores (Officeworks may have them) where you can deposit your phone as you would do for a normal recycling bin.
Your provider may also have a program that takes old technology, and they usually have instructions on their website as to how you can do this. Do look into these, as you may be able to take advantage of them in some way.
Re-Use Old Technology
If you’re replacing a laptop, tablet or computer because it is too old, you might be able to give this to someone else in your family or a friend who might be able to use it. Just because technology is old doesn’t mean that it won’t work well anymore. It just means that your needs are outgrowing your current technology.
You might even be able to find someone who knows of a recycling program that takes in old technology. There are also charities who can use this old technology to provide an education to disadvantaged individuals, families and communities.
Old technology would also be very useful for company demonstrations, and you might even be able to use them at events as part of an interactive display. After all, more people are likely to have old technology than newer ones, so there is still some additional use.
Your technology can work as long as you need it to, and personally, I like to use my technology until it can’t work anymore, or it is inadequate for my needs.
It’s About The Future
Maybe you’re not as concerned about the environment or maybe you truly think technology is disposable.
But e-waste and the methods we normally use to throw away technology risk endangering our potential for the future. By carefully recycling and using our technology, not only are we able to get more use out of our technology, but we can preserve the hope that we can have technology far into the future.
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