E-Waste: The Electronic Age Has A Dark Side! Is Refurbished Electronics The Answer?

By: | June 25th, 2013

E- Waste is the fastest-growing component of the waste stream worldwide. In the US alone 130,000 computers and 250,000 cell phones are disposed of each day. Electronic waste (E-Waste) includes lead, cadmium, mercury, chromium, and polyvinyl chloride among others that have toxicological effects including brain damage, kidney failure, mutations and cancer.

Recycling as a business is exploding around the world and the equipment and cell phones often contain metals including gold and other precious materials that can be extracted and reused. However, there is a dark side.

We have seen the images of children using 17th-century techniques to manage 21st century toxic substances. Some towns just north of Hong Kong that process E-Waste are registering the highest levels of cancer-causing dioxins in the world. Drinking water is being trucked in due to the poisoned local water resources.

There is a better solution!

Electronics repair or refurbishing is a booming industry! With the increase in electronic consumerism, companies and people are discarding electronic goods that still work or could be easily repaired, that still have a lot of value.

On the top level Dell, HP, Cisco and Apple all sell refurbished products at a steep discount for a product that is a couple years old that still works or is being returned, all with a 1 year warranty.

Companies are blossoming with sales of used and refurbished high end networking hardware like CISCO products. A source at one of the large refurbished electronics companies says “We are picking up product and components for cents on the dollar! We completely refurbish, test and package the product and then sell it at around 50% of list price with a 1 year warranty.” When a company relocates, move or goes out of business, the network equipment is typically trashed or auctioned off. These products still work perfectly and we can get a good price for them.

Bob Dodson of PLC Part, has 30 years’ experience in the industrial automation market; he saw the opportunity to  repair industrial plc parts and controllers. Bob says “We may not get the margins that more commercial products get like Cisco, but PLCpart.com is doing good business repairing and refurbishing obsolete industrial electronics, allowing companies to keep older automation systems that perform the function they need to. There is no reason to install brand new equipment when the old equipment still does the job.”

Bob suggests “If you need you PLC repair services or want to get rid of PLC parts don’t throw it away, give us a call”.

E-waste is still a problem. However, if we have more people who see problems as opportunity, we’ll see more discarded products being used for many more years, reducing waste and creating jobs. Refurbished electronics just may provide opportunity and solution all-in-one.

Photo Source: fotovisura

Michael Cooney

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