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23 May 2024

Trade junk in for new gadgets

By Mily Chakrabarty

Many of us have cupboards full of obsolete gadgets, white goods and electronic products we have been itching to dispose of but are unable to find any takers. The junk keeps accumulating until we knowingly or unknowingly get rid of them as scrap along with the toxic materials they may contain, thereby adding to the growing global carbon footprint.

Companies such as LG, HP and Dell offer a ray of hope to such consumers. LG has launched an exchange offer that will coincide with Dubai Shopping Festival. Customers can trade in their old home appliances such as washing machines and refrigerators and buy new LG appliances at a discount.

PC-maker HP recently started an initiative called the HP Consumer Buyback and Planet Partners Recycling Programme. The company is actually offering money to users in exchange for their old tech equipment. It also has a quote website for consumers who want to find out what their tech junk is worth.

Producer take-back programmes, also known as extended producer responsibility (EPR) help users get rid of the junk that lies in their homes for years. HP and Dell have been running recycling programmes for years and accept not only products from their own stables but all models of computers, monitors, printers and peripheral devices.

Recycling was a hot topic among tech giants at the recent Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Motorola unveiled a mobile phone made from recycled water bottles, which boasts a zero-carbon footprint. And Panasonic, Sharp and Toshiba revealed plans to recycle TV sets and other gadgets they sell in the United States.

However, the whole initiative will be critically flawed if the entire responsibility to dispose of tech waste rests with the manufacturers. Safe disposal of obsolete products and equipment should be a combined effort of manufacturers, users and government authorities, as the process of recycling is tedious and unprofitable.

If the manufacturers and users want to save a lot of headaches, they can instead focus on environmentally friendly products that are safe to use, easy to dispose of and also do not leave a high carbon footprint.

But if you want to get rid of that junk that you have already accumulated, it would probably be worth your while to look up the various buyback offers.