Recycling computers PC recycling tips
Who’s responsible for recycling my computer?
As part of the EU Weee directive (Weee stands for Waste electrical and electronic equipment), retailers and manufacturers must provide consumers with information and resources about how to recycle old electronic equipment for free, and contribute to any related recycling costs.
But it’s up to you, the consumer, to decide if you want to dispose of old PCs in an environmentally-friendly way.
Anything made after June 2006 should have a crossed-out wheelie bin symbol on the packaging or product to show it’s classified as electronic waste. Councils aren’t obliged to recycle old computers but we think more of them should direct people to the nearest recycling facility or at least be up to speed with the new regulations.
How do I recycle my PC?
Take it to a recycling point
Visit Recycle-more.co.uk to find your nearest recycle bank. Your council should be able to collect your old computer (costs vary from nothing to more than £25), but check to make sure it doesn’t all go straight to landfill.
A few manufacturers, like Dell, will collect your old item for free, regardless of brand, when you’re buying a new PC from it (visit Dell Recycling). Old Dell-branded items can be collected for free at any time.
Retailer take-back facilities
Under the UK Weee regulations, PC retailers (classed as distributors) must provide free take-back facilities for customers to return old equipment whenever a replacement item is purchased.
Some, like the chain PC World, will accept old electronics instore for recycling if you’re buying a similar product. You have 28 days to return the old product after purchase, said spokesperson Rob Forbes.
Others, like Amazon.co.uk, choose to join a take-back scheme that directs you to a designated collection facility for recycling your computer.
Donate your computer to a charity
Some councils will provide you with details of local non-profit groups who may accept your PC. Computer Aid International can send computers to underdeveloped countries, so long as the specifications are high enough.
Don’t be offended if your computer is too ancient to be accepted; for equipment to feasibly last more than a couple of years and run modern software effectively it needs to be of a certain standard. Dell told us a typical consumers’ computer is around seven years old when it’s collected. Computers of this age are unfortunately too old to be donated.
Will it cost me money to recycle my PC?
Although you could be charged for the collection of old equipment, it won’t cost you anything extra to recycle it. Manufacturers, importers and others in the distribution chain have certain legal responsibilities in terms of covering recycling costs.
If you want your local council to collect your kit, but it doesn’t know what’s going to happen to your PC, it may be best to take it to your nearest recycling point in person.
What should I do about my data?
You may need to use specialist software to ensure that you’ve safely removed your data before recycling your computer. For more details, see the ‘Erasing PC data‘ section.
Why recycle my computer?
Technology is a great, but the frequent need to upgrade your computer whenever the next best thing comes along contributes to a depressingly massive amount of waste.
Every year around one million tonnes of electronic landfill is generated in the UK alone, according to government figures. More defunct technology is simply lying around unused.