E-waste: Retailers urged to explore “unexploited potential” of old devices

Retailers and electronic manufacturers are being urged to prioritise reducing the impact of e-waste from phones, computers and other electronic devices.

Waste management software provider IBS Global has highlighted the “unexploited potential” of old or broken devices that would otherwise be thrown away as a source for the base metals that are integral to the production of new hardware.

The UK generated the second largest amount of digital waste – or e-waste – as a country in 2022, but IBS founder and CEO Chris Williams highlighted that: “in every country around the world, there are millions of old, unwanted electronic gadgets hiding in drawers, boxes, lofts or garages whose components could be recycled and reused to make the next generation of new devices and appliances.”

“The current situation opens up a significant commercial opportunity for forward-thinking waste and recycling companies to collect and then recycle this old technology at scale. They can take it apart, and sort and remove the valuable elements to return back into the market for reuse,” he added.

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Williams highlights a new EU law that aims to ensure batteries are collected, reused and recycled in Europe, which came into force on 17 August.

“The new regulation aims to promote a circular economy by regulating batteries of all sizes and types throughout their life cycle. It establishes end-of-life requirements, including targets for the collection and recovery of chemical materials within batteries and extended responsibility by battery manufacturers.

“Governments should apply a similar approach to old electronic devices. What’s needed are clear, easy-to-use schemes for people to send their devices for reuse or recycling once they are finished with them.”

Williams concludes that investing in new circular initiatives for consumers and retailers to reuse and recycle old technology safely avoids creating e-waste and “benefits people and the planet alike”.

Other e-waste reports highlight how high street and physical retailers could raise up to £850 million of additional revenue by selling refurbished and repaired technology.

Circular economyNewsTech

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