What do I do with my old smartphone? How to dispose of technology

Old devices can't be thrown away in the trash, but must be taken to the nearest recycler or left in the store

You've just bought a new smartphone. You spend the first few hours trying out the device. You get to know it and read through the manuals and instructions. After a while, however, a question arises: what do I do with the old phone?

The issue of disposal of old smartphones is delicate. According to a calculation of the United Nations, only in Europe every year are produced about 15 kilos of "electronic" garbage per inhabitant. An enormous figure. And globally, there are over 50 million tons of garbage per year, including old phones, obsolete PCs, non-functioning tablets and so on. And these numbers are set to increase exponentially due to the arrival in mass consumption of the Internet of Things. With this technology comes an increase in electronic and smart objects. By now, even a keychain or a thermostat must be disposed of in a different way than in the past.

Scheduled obsolescence

It should not be forgotten that in the era in which we live, every device has a short life. We are talking about the so-called "programmed obsolescence", that is a drop in performance due to technological evolution that makes it essential to continuously change devices. Buying new smartphones and computers, however, does nothing but worsen the conditions of the environment. In addition, cables, chips, printed circuit boards can not be thrown on the street or in the household garbage.

How to dispose of old smartphones

If we do not want to contribute to this barbarity we must follow some simple guidelines to safely dispose of old electronic devices. Let's start from the data relating to Italy. In our country in recent times people are becoming aware of the theme of recycling, even inherent in technology. But still not enough. It is estimated, in fact, that every year we produce about 600 thousand tons of electronic waste. And of these only half are disposed of in the right way. First, we need to identify the category to which our technological accessory belongs. In total there are five categories. In the first are refrigerators and air conditioners, in the second are large appliances, in the third are televisions and monitors, in the fourth are small appliances, including computers, smartphones and tablets, and in the fifth are light bulbs. In practice, everything that can be plugged into a socket is catalogued as WEEE and cannot end up in the undifferentiated collection. So far so clear, but what is the first step to dispose of one of these objects? Simple, just connect to the site of our municipality and check the nearest recycling company.  

In-store pickup

Recycling stores are, fortunately, not the only solution. By law when we replace an electronic device, the vendor is required to take delivery of the device we are replacing. It's called "one-on-one" and it's an initiative to which adhere, remember by law, even e-commerce. So next time, before completing an order, we select the voice "Take back WEEE". If not present ask customer service. Since 2016 is also valid "one against zero". That is, we can leave in a store an electronic object without buying anything. The only limitation in this case is the length of the object that can not exceed 25 centimeters. Attention are obliged to this withdrawal only megastores with at least 400 square meters of store.

The circular economy

The components of most of our electronic gadgets can be reused to make new devices. This gives rise to what is known as the circular economy. According to a European regulation, an old device must be at least 80% recoverable. A limit to which manufacturers must submit.

Attention to privacy

Before we get rid of a smartphone or tablet there is an important aspect not to be underestimated: our privacy. It is not advisable to get rid of an electronic object without first deleting all the information that concerns us. Those who have an iPhone can do a reset. While those who have an Android device in addition to the reset must perform a data encryption. To do this we go to Settings, Security and then to Encrypt Phone. In this way an attacker will not be able to recover our information. And if we have to dispose of a PC or a hard disk? In this case it is better to use a particular software, known as a file shredder.  Many antivirus suites have a built-in shredder.