Got your eye on a fancy new TV or laptop this Black Friday? Spare a thought for what happens to whatever you’re replacing.
Your outgoing gadget might become one of the hundreds of thousands of old electronic items that end up in landfill across the world, causing serious harm to people and the environment. And what’s worse, we in the UK are amongst the most guilty of allowing this to happen.
You probably know that our favourite gadgets contain harmful chemicals like lead and mercury and that stuff is very bad for human health and the environment. Because of this, in most parts of the western world there are laws that regulate the safe disposal of electronics. You may be thinking that you’re doing your bit by taking your old gogglebox to your local recycling plant but the reality is that we in the UK, like many western countries, do not deal with our e-waste ourselves. Instead, we ship it to other countries to be dealt with emitting tons of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, which as we all know by now is a very bad thing. On top of that despite bans on such practices for over a decade, sometimes our stuff is dumped illegally in countries unable to process them correctly, such as Nigeria, Tanzania and Pakistan, running the risk that the harmful chemicals found in electronics leak into the local environment harming wildlife and contaminating crops.
The reality is that some less honest waste disposal companies are willing to ignore the law in order to save on the costs of doing the job properly. A report in 2018 estimated that more than 350,000 tonnes of electronic waste was being illegally shipped from the EU to developing countries each year. Alarmingly the report also found that the worst perpetrator out of the countries researched was the UK.
So what to do with your TV now that it’s no longer state of the art? The good news is that you can do your bit for the greater good this Black Friday by putting the stuff you’re replacing on an upcycling app like Buengo, giving it a second lease of life AND raise money for charity ALL AT THE SAME TIME.