How to dispose of electronic waste

As technology continues to evolve at a rapid pace, electrical and electronic waste (e-waste) is now one of the fastest growing waste streams in the world. To make matters worse, some e-waste components contain hazardous substances which include, material electronics and mercury, which pose a threat to the environment. 

What is e-waste?

E-waste is the term used for electronic goods that came to the end of their lives. Examples of e-waste include: batteries, computer equipment, cell-phones, cameras, small and large household appliances (ranging from TVs to toasters). So basically, anything that runs on batteries or electricity can be e-waste.

Now that you understand what e-waste is and have already started counting the items you need to dispose of, here are tips and suggestions to help you do so in a responsible way.

  • Donate:  This is always a great way to put unwanted goods to use. Various charity organisations are in dire need of electronic equipment, and your old laptop could make a difference. The same applies to cell phones, radios, watches, video games, and appliances.
  • Sell: You could try to make a bit of cash by selling your unwanted electronic equipment to a second-hand shop, or the internet via websites which allow for online sales and purchases.
  • Look for an e-waste recycler in your neighbourhood:  These are authorised and certified companies that will split up the material making up the e-waste into different components such as glass, metal, aluminium, plastic, etc. Some companies will even collect your e-waste from you. Try an online search for “e-waste South Africa” to find your nearest recycler.
  • Return the equipment to the original supplier: If you’re buying a new appliance and need to get rid of an old one, check to see if the company you’re purchasing from offers disposal services. For example, many cell phone providers will accept old models of phones.
  • Recycling depots and supermarkets: Used batteries, fluorescent bulbs and other light bulbs should not be thrown away with your other household trash, as these are toxic to the environment. Be on the lookout for designated recycling bins at supermarkets and garage stations.

With our heavy reliance on electrical equipment, responsible e-waste disposal is now more essential than ever before. Before you throw that old broken kitchen appliance into the trash, think again. And, when you replace the old with the new, don’t forget to update your Home Contents Cover with your new electronic goodies so you are covered in case of loss.

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