Recycle your old computer (E waste) responsibly

Filed in Recycle by on January 1, 2010 11 Comments
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ewaste shipped to AfricaRefurbishing, reusing and recycling computers is a vital part of a sustainable waste programme. Philip Booth, from the fabulous Ruscombe Green blog has a bit of thing about computer waste, and I know where he is coming from. With computers being out of date the moment you leave the store; we’re all hankering after the newer, faster, better, brighter model. According to Fujitsu Siemens, we generate 1.8 million tonnes of Electrical and electronic waste every year in the UK, of which IT equipment is 39 per cent.

So strong were Philip’s feelings about E-Waste that he began the process some years ago of establishing a local company to deal with computer waste. He writes:

“In the Western world there is an increasing problem with discarded computers entering landfills. At present there are few computer recycling programs to address this problem. Of particular concern are the toxic ingredients found in computers which, when disposed of inadequately, can pollute the environment.

Many of these computers are still in working condition or can be easily repaired or upgraded, and thus are suitable for disadvantaged people in countries with little or no computer resources, or the needy in England”

Fortunately, the times they are a changin’ and there are more and more ways for you to safely ensure your computers are reused or recycled. Many organisations are non profit or social enterprises,  so not only will you benefit the environment by keeping your old computers out of landfill and offering them up for reuse, but you’ll  be bringing meaningful and much-needed work to your local community.

It’s important to find out where your E-waste is going to, however. Ask questions to any organisation you take your old computer to and make sure it’s not simply being shipped to poorer countries, where it contaminates their land and detriments their health with heavy metals such as mercury and lead.

Find a list of UK computer recyclers and refurbishers on the Waste Online site.

What about you? How did you get rid of your last old computer?


About the Author ()

I am a long time supporter of the Green and Sustainable lifestyle. After being caught in the Boscastle floods in 2004, our family begun a journey to respect and promote the importance of Earth's fragile ecosystem, that focussed on reducing waste. Inspired by the beauty and resourcefulness of this wonderful planet, I have published numerous magazine articles on green issues and the author of four books.

Comments (11)

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  1. Maria Lavrias says:

    A good source to recycling your computers, monitors and other electronics is TECHNOLOGYRECYCLER.NET at

    They serve Raleigh/Durham/Cary, Houston, Little Rock and Orange areas

  2. Mrs Green says:

    @Maria Lavrias: Hi Maria, welcome to the site and thanks for sharing your link; it’s great to hear of recyclers around the place who are doing something to help the e-waste issue

  3. Jane says:

    One of the biggest problems with recycling computers is that we need to be able to delete our data off them first and nobody seems to know how to do this easily. There is a lot of talk about smashing hard drives with hammers – umm – which bit exactly is that? What does it look like??

    There are charities who’d like them for reuse – our Community Voluntary Service usually know of organisations who would be grateful for one..

  4. Poppy says:

    There’s this group locally

    So far though, we’ve always mananged to rehome to a PC less friend or relative.

  5. Mrs Green says:

    @Jane: Hi Jane, I believe there are companies who will safely get rid of any confidential information for you – and all recyclers are supposed to do this as standard. You’d need to ask the specific question I guess.

    @Poppy: Poppy; thanks for that; it’s good to support local organisations where possible.

  6. Louisa says:

    Here’s a scheme I’ve seen featured on Women In Technology’s website (but don’t worry, I’m sure computing equipment owned by men is equally welcome!): Computer Aid International

  7. Mrs Green says:

    @Louisa: Thanks Louisa, it’s good to build up a resource like this. I’ll definitely bear them in mind

  8. rishabh says:

    i have business of used computer pls help me how to follow rules of e waste

  9. Mrs Green says:

    @rishabh: Hi Rishabh, welcome to the site. It’s great that you want to earth friendly in your approach; what is it you need help with and where are you based?

  10. LJayne says:

    Wasn’t sure where else to put this but I was in my local Partners store yesterday (same group as Rymans) and they had a collection box – and a recycled cardboard one no less! – for empty ink cartridges. I’ve just got a freepost bag for a Lexmark one from the Lexmark website, but Partners take all brands, all colours etc., original or remanufactured/refilled.

    I haven’t looked deeper into what they actually do with them, am about to try and find an email address and enquire!

  11. Mrs Green says:

    @LJayne: That’s really helpful news, Lesley – thank you for sharing! I’ll see if I can check out more details too…

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