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How Buying Refurbished is a Smart Way to Go Green

According to a study by the research firm Gartner, the number of personal computers in use around the world surpassed 1 billion in 2008. Growing at the pace that it is, this figure will double every four years.

Today’s consumers use a lot of IT equipment and will likely continue to use much more in the future. Now the question is, what are we going to do about the growing mountain of e-waste in landfills?

We’re here to talk about the most environmental-friendly way to deal with the e-waste piling up our landfills: refurbishing.

What is refurbishing?

Refurbishing involves re-distributing or reselling products that have been previously returned to a manufacturer or company. In most cases, an item has been returned due to defects, and then the item is tested, fixed, and then sold to the public.

Refurbished goods are usually accompanied by a label of “certified refurbished” or “like-new condition”, which means they were previously owned but satisfactory to use by a new customer.

What is a ‘refurbished’ unit?

Discarded computer units undergo a rigorous re-manufacturing process (e.g. physically cleaned, wiped and reinstalled, inspected) before being sold or provided as refurbished. In fact, many times, buying a refurbished computer allows users to get a better specification for the same price.

Refurbishment is better than creating e-waste

A look at the statistics provided by EPA, in 2010 in the US alone, 1.375 million computer units and related hardware items (including CPUs, desktops, portables, monitors, hard copy devices, keyboards and mice) were disposed of. Out of these, only 29% were recycled. EPA’s research also shows that in 2012, 3.4 million tons of e-waste was generated in the US. Only 29% of this was recycled and the rest was trashed in landfills or incinerators.

Refurbishment allows companies to breathe new life into returned products, sell them back to consumers, and therefore contribute less to this epidemic of e-waste.

Is buying refurbished a good idea?

In short, yes, buying refurbished products is a good way to save money, help the environment, and even gain a better product. But the benefits don’t stop there. Here are some other benefits of buyingre furbished.

Less Environmental Baggage

Refurbishing diverts the e-waste from landfills and reroutes it back in our houses or offices thus reducing the constraint on the environment for trashing the product. Refurbishing also extends the life of computer equipment which is the best environmental outcome for any such product.

Better Use of Resources

The production of electronic devices is a very resource-intensive process. So much so, the burden that the environment bears due to devices such as computers, exceeds that due to the manufacturing of any other household item.

According to the report “E-waste, the hidden side of IT equipment’s manufacturing and use” by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), “The manufacturing of a computer and its screen takes at least 240 kg (530 pounds) of fossil fuels, 22 kg (48 pounds) of chemicals, and 1.5 tonnes of water – more than the weight of a rhinoceros or a car.”

Therefore, it is wiser that instead of rampant trashing, we use computers to their very last breath possible. This in turn is achievable through refurbishing the product.

More Affordable

Refurbishing cuts the cost of computers thus making them affordable for a population that otherwise are not able to afford PC. It also is a great alternative for the technological needs of BGOs or even many small-business startups.

Creates Jobs

Refurbishing and hence reusing creates more jobs in comparison to dumping them at a landfill – “296 more jobs per for every 10,000 tons of material disposed of each year.” The process of refurbishment contains all good things like limited use of raw materials, preserving natural resources, and reducing energy costs. Therefore, refurbished computers are a wonderful way to help the environment go greener and help you breathe better.

Find refurbished electronics near you

A quick Google search will help you find businesses offering refurbished electronics, including everything from iPhones to tablets to desktop computers to laptops. Simple search “refurbished” plus the type of item you are looking for. Otherwise, you can contact electronics directly to ask if they have a refurbishment program.

Buying refurbished is a good idea if you want to save some money and reduce the amount of electronics waste added to the environment. It’s one small way to do your part and make the world a better place. Learn more on the Living Green Technology blog.


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