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How to get rid of your old gadgets safely

Dumping old electronics such as phones and computers, in a careful manner, can help minimize e-waste


Users should discard their old gadgets through authorized electronic waste recyclers who are registered and authorised by state pollution control boards.
Users should discard their old gadgets through authorized electronic waste recyclers who are registered and authorised by state pollution control boards.

The amount of e-waste generated by Asian countries has gone up by 63% in the last five years, according to a United Nations University report, which attributes this to growing income levels and the availability of low-cost electronics, especially smartphones, tablets, laptops and TVs. The study points that the situation is worse in countries which lack an environment-friendly infrastructure for disposing old electronics.

In a country like India, a local electronic repair store or a scrap dealer is always ready to buy them. How they dump or store these gadgets afterwards is still a grey area and a source of concern. Users can help minimize the risk this poses to the environment by getting rid of their old gadgets with people who have the infrastructure to store and dismantle these in an eco-friendly manner. Here are some tips which may come in handy.

Sell to right authorities

According to Electronic Waste (Management and Handling) Rules, 2011, users should discard their old gadgets through authorized electronic waste recyclers who are registered and authorised by state pollution control boards. As per the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), there are 138 such authorised recyclers in the country right now. You can check the names and location of these on CPCB’s website.

Delhi-based Attero is one of the biggest e-waste management companies with a pan-India presence and the license and the facilities to dismantle old electronics. It uses a cost-efficient metal extraction technology that allows extraction of metals from old gadgets so they can be re-used for manufacturing electronics.

Why selling at scrap shops is a bad idea

Electronics sold at local scrap shops end up at the many informal open air e-waste dump yards which lack the technology and infrastructure to process e-waste safely. A harmless looking electronic gadget carries hazardous metals and chemicals such as arsenic, lead, cadmium, mercury and beryllium. Improper dismantling releases these chemicals in the ecosystem and can pollute water or contaminate the soil. People working or living around these dump yards face an even greater risk of developing respiratory problems, heart diseases and even cancer, due to regular exposure.

Pass it on to someone else

Many of the old gadgets are not necessarily useless. One can always get rid of them by selling them to stores that deal in second and refurbished products. Companies such as ReGlobe and Cashify buy and sell old gadgets. They send their representatives to determine the condition of a device and then pay sellers in cash.

The other way to discard an old smartphone or a laptop is putting them out for exchange for a new gadget. Exchange offers are limited to fewer gadget categories but are available with some of the leading e-commerce stores such as Amazon.in and Flipkart.com from time to time. These old devices are then sanitised and resold at lower prices.

Delete data properly

Selling of your old gadgets such as smartphone, old hard drive, smart TV or computer to a local dealer can be dangerous. The risk of your personal data falling into wrong hands is a bit higher in such devices as anyone with the technical skills and malicious intention can always recover the deleted data. Removing data selectively, running multiple formats and giving away devices only to authorised e-waste management companies can minimize this risk.

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