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What to do with old hardware

What to do with old hardware - An open discussion

You can find tons of different hardware in just about every household these days. The spectrum ranges from small devices such as laptops, smartphones or tablets to tower PCs, computer monitors and televisions to the right large devices such as washing machines, dryers and refrigerators. As different as all of the hardware mentioned may be, they always have one thing in common. At some point it will have reached the end of its life or it is simply technically out of date.

Hardware is becoming increasingly short-lived

The latter also happens at ever shorter intervals, which is particularly evident in the area of ​​smartphones. Manufacturers are throwing new models onto the market in ever shorter development cycles, which in turn makes many older models of no interest to users. This development is of course fueled on the one hand by the insane speed with which new technical innovations are driven to market maturity, on the other hand at least to the same extent by clever advertising and an increasingly stronger "must-have mentality" in our society.

But what do you do with all that old electronic waste? What is the most convenient way to get rid of your old hardware and countless devices without causing unnecessary damage to the environment? Maybe there is still smarter alternatives to conventional recycling?

Today we would like to openly put the most important questions about computer recycling up for discussion. What are your personal experiences? What is your opinion? Let us know in the comments at the end of this post!

23kg of electronic waste per year per citizen

There is much more to the term e-waste than just the smartphone or the computer. According to the definition, the term includes all large and small electrical appliances from the household, entertainment, information and refrigeration and air conditioning sectors. Recently, this also includes furniture or clothing with electronic components, such as flashing children's sneakers, or bathroom cabinets with integrated lighting.

For example washing machines, electronic heaters, toasters, refrigerators and air conditioning systems, but also computers, laptops, video game consoles, telephones, smartphones and energy-saving lamps. In a normal average household, that adds up to a lot.

In this article we have already briefly dealt with the topic of electronic waste and the associated disposal problems. For example, according to statistics from 2017, every German produces a healthy amount year after year23 kg of electronic waste.

In order for this gigantic amount to be properly recycled, the correct collection of these devices is essentialvery important. After all, the numerous components contain valuable raw materials such as copper, nickel or even gold and platinum that can be recycled.

3 ways to properly dispose of old hardware

The general rule is: old hardware from computers, laptops, old smartphones & Co. belongs not in the household rubbish! On the newer electronic devices you will even find the symbol of a crossed-out garbage can directly on the device. The manufacturers are obliged to take over the disposal of the old devices. This is prescribed by the "Electrical and Electronic Equipment Act".

But what is the most convenient way to get rid of your old equipment and still make sure that everything is recycled properly? 3 quick and easy ways.

Option 1: Hand it in at the recycling center

Large devices such as (tube) monitors, televisions, etc. are covered Bulky waste, which you can register and - depending on the municipality - have it picked up. Most recycling centers also accept computers and laptops. Mostly even for free. As an alternative to picking up, you can of course also hand in your electronic waste and bulky waste yourself at the recycling center in your community.

Most cities and municipalities have a free quota of two bulky waste appointments per household and year per household. Additional costs may be incurred for further disposal, depending on the municipality. A quick phone call to the city or local authority will clarify the situation.

Option 2: return by post

Deutsche Post also offers a service to hand in electrical devices free of charge. This service is called ELECTRORETURN and is an extremely convenient way to dispose of smaller electrical appliances. The only restriction: they have to be in aMaxi letter (35 x 25 x 5 cm) and may not fit more than one kilogram to weigh.

The offer is therefore primarily suitable for old cell phones, smartphones and printer cartridges.

Simply put the old or defective electrical device in an envelope, print out the free stamp here, stick it on and throw it in the nearest mailbox or hand it in at the post office. This ensures that the devices sent in are taken to a professional recycling company.

Option 3: drop it off in the shop

Electronics retailers have had to take back old devices free of charge since 2015. This applies regardless of whether the device in question was purchased from this dealer or from another dealer. Smaller devices with an edge length of up to maximum 25 centimetersThe dealer must accept it again without restrictions, larger devices only if you buy a new device at the same time. You can also bring your devices to the nearest dealer around the corner.

But here, too, there is the famous exception that confirms the rule: the whole thing only applies to traders with one Sales area (Shop) or a Storage and dispatch area (pure online shops) of at least 400 square meters.

How is this continuing?

All 3 options have one thing in common. In the end, your device ends up at a professional recycling company. But what exactly is going on there? How does such a recycling cycle work?

The recycling cycle

The entire recycling process for electronic waste such as old computers, smartphones or laptops should ideally look something like this:

  • Collection of the old devices
  • Collection by specialist companies
  • Manual pre-sorting
  • Removal of toxic components (old batteries, accumulators, etc.)
  • Shredding the leftovers
  • automatic separation of the individual metals
  • Melting down aluminum and iron

As far as at least the theory or what the public likes to demonstrate. But what happens outside of the cameras? Despite the seemingly tight-knit controls and regulations, smaller and larger scandals are causing the effectiveness of our recycling systems to be questioned more and more.

What do you think about it? In your opinion, are our systems sufficient or do we urgently need improvements?