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Is remarketed IT hardware the answer to environmental waste?

In both our professional and personal lives, we’ve all come to rely on technology. But like any product which needs to be manufactured from raw materials, transported from the factory to the fulfillment center and finally shipped to the retail outlet we purchase it from, IT hardware places a burden on the environment.

 

And once we no longer need it, disposing of our ‘technotrash’ can create an additional ecological problem. We take a look at the environmental impacts associated with IT hardware, and how you can do your part to help address this growing problem.

 

Manufacture:

Materials

PCs, laptops, tablets and smartphones all make use of virgin materials during the manufacturing process. This includes metals, plastics and various chemicals, as well as several non-renewable resources like gold. In fact, it’s estimated that computers use up 10 times their weight in chemicals and pollutants during manufacturing. All these materials in turn need to be sourced or mined from somewhere else, processed or refined, and then transported to the factory.

Factories

Manufacturing IT hardware is an energy-intensive process, and when that electricity comes from coal-burning power plants, the carbon footprint of your new laptop or PC might be a lot higher than you’d think. The factories themselves also release toxins and pollutants into their immediate area, negatively impacting both people, wildlife and the environment.  

Transport and shipping

The vast majority of computer and laptop parts and hardware are manufactured in Southeast Asian countries like Malaysia, Indonesia, and Taiwan. They then need to be shipped, offloaded, and transported overland before they even get to the retailer who sells them to you – unfortunately contributing to atmospheric CO2 every step of the way. 

 

Disposal:

E-waste or technotrash is now the world’s fastest-growing solid-waste stream. As individuals and big corporates alike upgrade their devices to newer models, the old ones get chucked out – and most are not disposed of properly or responsibly, and end up in landfills. Here, they leach toxic chemicals and heavy metals into the soil and groundwater. Components like lithium-ion batteries are especially hazardous.  

 

Tackling the problem

As an individual, one of the most powerful ways you can help to address this growing problem is by using refurbished, remarketed or secondhand IT hardware wherever possible instead of buying new products. Many large corporates have a policy of upgrading their IT hardware every few years, meaning that there are thousands of perfectly useable devices out there that would otherwise become part of the problem.  

 

Benefits of buying remarketed hardware:

  • It’s cheaper!
  • You're saving a device and its components from potentially ending up in a landfill
  • Reusing an existing product eliminates all the pollution, carbon emissions and use of non-renewable resources associated with manufacturing new hardware
  • Many suppliers offer value add-ons like memory customization, software installation and technical support
  • You’re ‘voting with your wallet’ for a greener, more eco-friendly alternative to business as usual
  • By supporting remarketed hardware, you're also creating a way for corporates and big businesses with high tech turnovers to dispose of their “outdated” hardware in a more ecologically sound manner

 

In addition, reputable companies like Service Parts Logistics offer extended warranties and certified remarketed laptops, so you know you're buying a quality product that will continue to serve you for years to come. 

 

What else can I do?

Having the very latest tech may seem trendy, but it’s definitely not the most environmentally responsible option. Swallow that ego, and make use of refurbished tech whenever you can!

You can also avoid leaving your laptop or computer turned on overnight to reduce your electricity usage, and make sure that when the time does come to say goodbye, you dispose of your electronic devices the right way.