In 2020, electrical waste in the UK hit 1.45 million tonnes a year and businesses buying new equipment contribute to this figure.
Craig Campion, director of IT asset disposition (ITAD) services for Stone Refurb part of Stone Group, the UK's largest privately owned IT hardware manufacturer, believes businesses can help reduce e-waste by buying refurbished office equipment.
Craig commented, ‘The demand has never been higher, but neither has the cost for new IT equipment. Sales of laptop and desktop computers exceeded 302 million in 2020, a 13% increase from the year before and the most since 2014. In 2019, the world collectively generated 53.6 million metric tonnes of e-waste; but just 17.4% of this was formally and responsibly collected and recycled. By 2030, it is projected that upwards of 74 million tonnes of e-waste will be generated.
‘One of the easiest ways for business owners to reduce these e-waste numbers is to choose to buy refurbished instead of new. But the thought of the quality being lower can put people off, when in fact the manufacturers who resell refurbished equipment check all the defects and damages before selling them. If you are buying refurbished electronics from an authorised refurbisher or directly from the manufacturer, you can be assured that these products are reliable.
‘Buying a refurbished laptop means that you are reusing old technology instead of supporting the manufacturing of new technology. Here at Stone Refurb we discovered that worldwide, over 50 million tonnes of e-waste heads to the landfill each year to support the need for the latest and greatest gadget upgrade. Many of these devices are in perfectly good condition, and may release harmful chemicals into the soil when they are disposed of. Buying your laptop second-hand keeps a device in circulation and out of the dump for a little while longer.
‘When you buy a new product you won’t find thousands of reviews out there. You are left to simply trust the ‘buzz’ around its release and the reliability of the brand and manufacturer. Shopping used or refurbished products means you will find millions of reviews out there already. Do some basic research and you can figure out if the device will meet your needs. Dig a bit more and you will find out if it is easily repaired, user friendly, and a good buy overall.
‘In some cases, your refurbished laptop will arrive in the mail completely unscathed. Many companies purchase technology and upgrade from year to year, and the devices are basically unused. In other cases, buyer’s remorse sets in and devices are simply returned and exchanged after light use. In some cases, you actually do end up getting a practically brand new machine.’
Five things you need to know before buying refurbished equipment
Consider looking at seller ratings when you go shopping for refurbished laptops. Never buy from a vendor that is not authorised or certified. It would be smart to check their reputation through feedback and customer ratings.
Was it a refurb or an open box?
A typical open box product is one that was purchased and opened, but returned before it was ever used. Maybe the buyer or recipient didn't want it, or maybe the packaging was damaged so it was returned as a precaution, even though it worked fine.
If the product is a refurb, check with the seller the level of refurbishment that has been performed and the quality of the finished product. This can often be shown as a grade system (A-C) being ranked from great condition to well used.
Does it come with everything needed?
That feeling of opening your latest tech to discover there is no charger is not something you want. Whether you are buying from an individual seller or a retailer, always check your refurbished product comes with every item it needs to work at its full potential.
What do you need the product for?
If you need a laptop for tasks like web browsing or word processing, get a refurbished laptop. You can save more this way and avoid regretting spending so much on what, in essence, is an office laptop. You get a great cost-performance ratio with refurbished laptops.
Your refurbished laptop purchase should come with an assurance that the seller guarantees the product. Items sold as new, or open box will come with the manufacturers standard 1 year warranty. Some refurbished laptop warranties may be shorter for grade A-C products and typically do not cover battery life, but each vendor is different, so read the fine print before adding the item to your shopping cart.
Also check the sellers return policy. The return policies will be different for changing mind and faulty products which can often be covered within the conditions of the warranty.