Dave's eco-nomics: Recycle your kit


Gadget-users are slaves to upgrades, kitting the team out with the latest mobiles or boosting a fleet of PCs so that they don't puff as they process. But as well as consuming vast amounts of energy to run (Gartner reckons emission levels from PCs and ICT kit rival those of the aviation industry), your old electronics cause damage even after you've chucked them out. Cadmium, chromium, arsenic, asbestos, polychlorinated biphenyls and PVC - all can seep out of landfill and ruin eco-systems. We bin more than 15 million mobiles a year globally, recycling only 5% - a massive waste of resources. Japanese landfill now contains three times as much gold, silver and indium (used in coating LCDs) and six times as much platinum as the world needs each year.


The 2007 WEEE directive makes business responsible for electronics disposal. But you can pass your stuff on to someone who can use it, via organisations such as Digital Pipeline, which sells usable parts and sends functional kit to the developing world. Makers such as Dell recycle material from computers sent back to them. And you can do it yourself. By stripping down a laptop (ecogeek.com tells you how), you can flog off bits like the RAM and re-use the hard-drive. When buying new, choose well: Greenpeace ranks green electronics, putting Nokia at the top.

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