Guest Blog: Are you an unwitting polluter?

GUEST BLOG: Eco-conscious consumers are cutting plastic, but confused about how they can help most…

When it comes to recycling, do you have the best of intentions, but not always the information or knowledge to match? Are you an unwitting polluter? In this SustMeme Guest Post, Yanyan Ji, SVP Marketing at Gazelle, a known leader in electronic waste, talks us through the findings of a representative survey of British consumers, which explored their environmental beliefs and lifestyle behaviours, plus, in some cases, the disconnect between the two…

YJ: New research finds 83% of Britons are doing more than ever to cut the amount of plastic they use and throw away. Women are leading this plastic-cutting charge with 90% saying their desire to use less is higher than ever.

However, the survey, which was carried out by the phone-recycling company, Gazelle, also found that over 35 million Brits (57% of those surveyed) are still risking dangerous chemicals leaching into the ground and contaminating our soils and waterways, by throwing away electronic gadgets such as old phones.

The ‘Attenborough effect’ as it’s becoming known is in evidence. Eight out of ten people (81%) who have watched shows like Blue Planet and Climate Change: The Facts say that the programmes have made them re-evaluate their behaviour and consider the environment more.

For example, when at the supermarket, 67% of shoppers now consider environmental factors when choosing what to buy, rather than selecting products solely based on price.

Yet despite Brits’ noble intentions, eight out of ten (81%) of us say that they want to do more to help the environment, but feel confused about what can and cannot be reused or recycled.

Over half (57%) of those surveyed admit to having put a phone, laptop, tablet, charger, or other electrical item in the household bin in the last year. And on average, just one third of us (34%) have recycled our phones or tablets.

Well intentioned, but ultimately ill-informed Brits tend to go online to find out how to reduce their impact on the environment, with nearly 9 in 10 Brits saying that would consult the internet on specific eco-advice.

It’s been estimated that only 15-20 percent of all e-waste is recycled, and the rest ends up in landfill. Our latest research suggests the cause of that isn’t consumers being unwilling to change their behaviour — rather, they don’t always know what to do.

When asked what they recycled, the top ten items were found to be:

  1. Plastic bottles: 92 %
  2. Cans: 88 %
  3. Newspapers and magazines: 86 %
  4. Cardboard: 86 %
  5. Glass bottles: 85 %
  6. Hard plastic containers: 70 %
  7. Batteries: 59 %
  8. Aerosols: 56 %
  9. Mobile phones and tablets: 34 %
  10. Televisions: 26 %

Here at Gazelle, we’re hoping to play our part by making it clearer and easier than ever for people to trade in old phones, get instant payment, and avoid contributing to e-waste in landfill. Our 26 kiosks across the UK will even take phones that are beyond repair, and responsibly recycle them, diverting them from landfill.

Smart. Simple. Rewarding.


More information on Gazelle, what it does to reduce e-waste, plus how to locate a kiosk nearby in the UK, can be found on the company’s website: https://uk.gazelle.com/



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SUSTMEME: Get the Susty Story Straight!

Explainer: How Microplastics Threaten Our Environment

Microplastic pollution is being found everywhere, literally: it is in our rivers; on our gardens; in the food we eat; it is even now in human poop.

Perhaps the worst aspect of microplastic pollution is that no effective and efficient way of removing the full range of debris has yet been found.

The EU has, however, recently proposed a wide-ranging ban on the use of ‘intentionally added’ microplastics, which if approved into law could see a phase-out starting 2020.

Meantime, recovering plastics from oceans and recycling them before they start to break down into small fragments is one way to fight this kind of pollution. When recycled, these plastics are used to create sustainable products.

This excellent infographic below, from Roman Chaloupka and GreenMatch, tells us more about how Microplastics Threaten Our Environment.

You can view the original, also learn about becoming ‘waste aware’ and fighting pollution, as well as the creators themselves here; plus Follow them on Twitter.

Micro Plastic Pollution

From Re-use and Repair, to Sensors and Smart Tech


New writing Two more of my recent pieces for Guardian Sustainable Business are now live. Running in their paid-content section on Sustainable Electricals, sponsored by WRAP, the articles explore the business case for adoption and promotion of circular economy models in the sector, with particular reference to Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE):

The full Guardian series on Sustainable Electricals with WRAP can be viewed here.

Waste: Living in a material e-world

A version of this article first appeared in a Special Report on ‘Managing Waste’, published in The Times, 5 March, 2014.

'A phone worth keeping': Phonebloks is an innovative modular mobile concept designed to help tackle challenges of a throwaway culture and built-in obsoletion (case study below)

Phonebloks: An innovative modular design concept for ‘a phone worth keeping’ (case study below).

Gold, silver and platinum will be amongst precious metals worth £1.5 billion purchased unwittingly in the UK between now and end 2020. This hoard of hidden treasure will be scattered throughout 10 million tonnes of electronic products bought by organisations, companies and private individuals alike.

Electronic, digital and mobile technologies are big business. The marketplace is competitive, evolving constantly and rapidly. Sales are strong, not least because products date and break.
Read more