Finding new uses for abandoned devices

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University you Limerick campus aerials Photo: True Media
A PROJECT operated by two University of Limerick academics has shown that almost a third of the phones, laptops and other electronic devices that we abandon could be used with just minor repairs.
The TriREUSE project was run by Dr Damian Coughlan and Dr Colin Fitzpatrick of the Department of Electronic and Computer Engineering at University of Limerick.
After setting up ten collection events targeting unused laptops, tablets and smartphones, they found that many of the devices brought to recycling stations are, in fact, very repairable.
The practice of ditching a device because it stops working as we expect it to is called the ‘closet effect’ because people hang on to a device out of concern about data privacy and other reasons.
Said Dr Fitzpatrick, “Electronics also contain a large number of critical raw materials, including rare earth elements which currently don’t emerge from the standard recycling systems and are lost for use.”
“Reusing them would not only reduce waste but could help bridge the digital divide by reselling them to buyers on low budgets.”
But he emphasised that a new collection system would have to be set up to prevent damage to such items and this would have to be other than the standard collection points offered at recycling centres and electrical shops.
Offering a free data-wiping service would encourage more people to pass on their devices while they were still usable.
He said there could be a cause for partnering with charity shops as collection points for devices while they are still useable.