IT Recycling and Up-cycling.
Recycling is really breaking down the old IT kit and re-using, either in its present form or by breaking it down into its component parts (metals, plastics etc.) and recycling that way. Up-cycling is using the old kit in a completely different way into innovative useful objects.
Discarded computer equipment includes monitors, printers, hard drives and circuit boards. These items contain significant amounts of recyclable materials that will remain hazardous in landfills for years if not recycled. The glass monitor, keyboard, plastic or aluminium casing, cables, CD-ROM drive, power leads, circuit board, batteries and printer cartridges are all recyclable computer materials. There is only approximately 2% of a computer that cannot be recycled. This portion is separated at the time that the computer enters a recycling facility and is discarded of responsibly.
Reusing old computers is a form of recycling with so much more benefit; no electronic waste will be sent to landfill, computer equipment sustains a longer life than expected, and it brings affordable prices for many businesses and people who could not necessarily afford to buy new. Refurbished computers and refurbished laptops are amongst the most common items given a second lease of life: We regularly take unwanted machines and with some simple replacements of hard disk or a fan, they can be sold-on at a modest profit for us and a cost saving for the recipient.
Many charities will also take working older stuff and ship it to developing countries to be used in education and development where it would not normally be affordable. However, there are concerns that much of this is simply moving our waste headache to another part of the globe.
Up-cycling looks like much more fun to me. You can drill a hole in just about anything and fit a clock mechanism behind it, hang it on the wall and hey-presto! I’ve seen a bread bin made from a printer casing, bird scarers using old CDs and the keys off a keyboard to make a Scrabble set. The most commonly used are the old Apple aluminium desktop cases (G3, 4 & 5). Someone has used two G5 towers with a length of wood screwed between them to make a bench, a case with a glass side panel as an aquarium, a tower fitted to the side of a house with the CD slot as a mailbox, and with the side removed as a cat bed. It’s all about your imagination and skill set.
Whatever you choose to do, you MUST make sure that you remove or clean your private data from the hard disk before disposal. Any responsible recycling company can do this for you and we regularly remove old hard disks for clients so that they can safely dispose of the old computers and laptops. Even if you’re giving away your laptop to another family member or friend, get your data off it first.
As always, if in doubt or if you need help, you know where to come!
Added: 1st March 2019