21 May 2024 14:27:09 GMT

The Third Rock Forum - Economics

Article Title
Don't just sit there - get on your recycle!
Topic Section(s)
Submitted : 13-02-2011 11:02
Amended : 10-11-2014 08:17
Status : Approved:  
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How can we use the young unemployed and give them skills whilst we do it?


At the moment, young people are having difficulty finding a worthwhile job.  We are paying them unemployment benefit and they sit at home desperately trying to find work.  Many of them have technical degrees/qualifications; some of them don't.


We have a commitment to the EU to hit a recycling target. So far, although we are apparently quite good, we are not anywhere near as good as some of the countries in the E.U.


One solution, that would benefit both the unemployed and the country, would be to use some of our young people to recycle computers and computer equipment.


We nearly all have computers in our homes and, as we know, each year they get better and cheaper.  We like to upgrade on a fairly regular basis.  What do we do with our redundant computers?  What do companies do with their old computers?  We either take them to the local dump, terrified that if we have not wiped the hard drive, someone will get hold of our data and take our identity, or we stuff them in a shed somewhere, hoping that one day they will be worth a fortune on the antiques market.  We try and fob them off to our granny, after all, she won't be playing computer games on it, but alas, she wants to be on the internet with a fast connection and our old computer just doesn't hack it.  Hence our need to upgrade.


Inside this machine that still works perfectly well, if a bit slowly, are lots and lots of bits of rare earths and precious metals. At present, when we've carried this big bulky thing down to the recycling tip, trusting in the belief that "the recycling guys" will protect our identity and all that stuff, we have no idea what happens to the thing. We actually, pack it all up and ship it off to foreign lands, where cheap labour harvests the rare earths and precious metals and land fill sites get the rest.  Why can't we do this?  Why can't we set up shop in every town and village, maybe using an empty premises, to collect these computers and use the young unemployed to strip them?  We could have a trained IT hardware engineer in situ at all times, who could teach the young people all about the gubbings inside this machine, get them to strip out the bits and bobs we need, and maybe even use other bits to re-build or upgrade some of the slightly better equipment that is dropped off at the site.  We could maybe teach them how to fix computers that people bring in, or build new ones.


We would then be training young people to re-build/fix/upgrade computers at the same time as stripping out rare earths, precious metals, which we, as a country, could then re-sell on the market to companies who need them.  With the money generated, we would then be able to pay for the IT engineer, cover the unemployment benefit shortfall, give a young person training for a worthwhile career in the future and, of course, help to save the planet.


A  win win win win outcome I think.