Christmas is nearly upon us. A time for family and relaxation – and also for lots of presents. At no other time of the year do we buy and consume more. Electronic gear is often at the top of people’s wishlists: smartphones, laptops or Bluetooth loudspeakers can often be found under the tree.
Accelerated innovation cycles for consumer electronics and communications hardware are shortening the useful life of such equipment. New products are obsoleting older models that are often still fully functional. These are thrown out to make room, landing in the basement or (worse) in the waste bin. According to the 2017 Global E-Waste Monitor from the University of the United Nations (UN), this problem is now assuming unimaginable dimensions, with 44.7 million tonnes of e-waste incinerated, disposed of in landfill or simply dumped worldwide in 2016. Small devices now make up a third of this amount, totalling some 17 million tonnes. And that number is set to grow.
Apart from being a health hazard for people and an environmental pollutant, e-waste also contains vast quantities of raw materials that could be put to good use. Valuable resources such as gold, copper, platinum and palladium lie hidden in this equipment. The 2017 Global E-Waste Monitor estimates the total value of raw materials in e-waste at USD 55 billion. Thanks to recycling, these materials can be recovered to a large extent. Yet only 20% of e-waste is currently being collected and properly recycled. In addition, much of this ‘waste’ is actually perfectly functional equipment. To ensure that this potential is not lost, Interseroh offers an IT refurbishment service, which reconditions hardware such as PCs and laptops for resale and reuse.
Data provided by Fraunhofer UMSICHT has shown that refurbishment can protect the climate and conserve natural resources: the refurbishment of a single laptop saves 181 kg of primary raw materials while simultaneously cutting CO2 emissions by 154 kg. This is approximately the equivalent of 1,100 vehicle kilometres – or a return trip from Munich to Berlin.
In the closed-loop model, refurbishment is upstream of recycling and therefore focuses even more strongly on the prevention of waste and the conservation of valuable resources. For more information, visit www.interseroh.de/en/sustainability/reports-and-certificates/