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What Do Recyclers Do With Your Old Laptop?

What Do Recyclers Do With Your Old Laptop?

Own up, have you got an old laptop gathering dust in the loft or the garage? Technology moves fast so most of us have a fair bit of e-waste cluttering up our homes. Ever wondered how you can recycle it and why you definitely should? Here’s our guide to laptop recycling.

The Problem with E-Waste

According to a 2017 UN report, E-waste is the world’s fastest-growing domestic waste stream. Globally, we produce around 50 million metric tonnes of E-waste every year. That’s 7kg for every person on the planet. We only collect and recycle 20% of it.

The situation in the UK follows a global pattern. In 2018, we bought 1.2 million tonnes of electrical devices. Less than half ended up at a recycling centre.

Why Is This Such a Huge Problem?

Electronic devices like laptops contain precious natural resources like zinc, copper, and iron. Dump these in a landfill and they're lost forever. Electricals also contain hazardous materials like mercury. Landfill sites can contaminate groundwater and soil. This is why laptop recycling is so important.

Laptop Recycling: Wiping Your Data

Worries about protecting data are one of the biggest reasons that people don’t recycle their old laptops. Before you recycle your laptop, it’s a good idea to back up any important data. You'll also need to erase everything from your computer and perform a factory reset. This will make it impossible to recover any personal details you’ve saved. Depending on the make and model of your laptop, go to the manufacturer’s website for instructions. Alternatively, any good tech website will tell you how to clear all your data.

What Does Laptop Recycling Involve?

There are a few different ways to recycle laptops. However, all of them involve some key steps.

  1. Dismantling the components to extract reusable raw materials.
  2. Shredding or dismantling any remaining materials.

Dismantling the device is an important part of laptop recycling. It helps save natural resources and minimises waste. An example of this would be dismantling the main circuit board to extract metals. These are used in new devices.

Shredding the laptop into pieces helps recyclers identify anything else that's reusable. For example, reusable plastics are often shipped to manufacturers who can make use of them. Anything that’s not reusable is shredded and disposed of.

Are you Ready to Detox your E-Waste?

Here is your challenge; go into the loft or garage and sort out your old electricals. Some local authorities accept small electricals like hairdryers and kettles in curbside recycling. Check your local council’s website to see what their rules are.

Otherwise, take electronics to a local recycling centre or back to the retailer if they have a takeback scheme.

An important thing to note regarding laptop recycling:

Any item that has a plug uses batteries, needs charging, or has a picture of a crossed-out wheelie bin on it must not go in your wheelie bin.

Under the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) regulations, it’s against the law to send these to landfills.

Therefore don’t dump your old laptop or leave it cluttering your home. Take it to a recycling centre and preserve some precious natural resources.

For more articles on all things recycling, check out the rest of our blog.

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