The average laptop lasts just three to five years,1 so what do we do with all our old pc and mac laptops? Laptop recycling is the answer.
Why Laptop Recycling is So Important
We create around 50-million tonnes of electronics waste every year2 when we throw out our old products. That figure is set to double by 2050.3 Most of that waste still ends up in landfill–and that’s bad news for our planet.
Laptops can house toxic materials including lead, arsenic, mercury and bromine.4 These substances are poisonous, and many are a fire hazard. As the laptops age in landfills, hazardous materials can leak out and create environmental risks. Laptop batteries themselves also present a fire risk.
What’s more, laptops and many other electronics have materials that can be salvaged. For example, laptops contain precious metals like gold and silver, as well as lots of copper. Their plastic shells, and sometimes even their batteries, can also be reused.
As such, it’s important we dispose of our laptops safely and responsibly through laptop recycling.
How to Trade in Your Laptop
Shops have a responsibility to help you dispose of your computer safely, says consumer watchdog Which?5. Usually, when you buy your new pc or mac, you will be able to hand over your old device. Depending on the age of your old computer, you might even get a bit of money off your new laptop.
If the shop you’re buying from does not have a recycling scheme, don’t worry. There are a number of ways to recycle your laptop independently.
Local household waste recycling centres may have special places where you can drop off laptops and other electronics.6 Check with your local council to find out more.
Computer firms like Dell,7 Apple8 and other big brands run recycling schemes, so in some cases it is worth checking with laptop manufacturers directly.
Charities like WeeeCharity9 also offer to take away old laptops and electronics for businesses, residential homes and other organisations. These charities will try to refurbish donations that still have some life in them. They can also dispose of those laptops that can’t be salvaged in a way that is compliant with local and national regulations.
Before your laptop is recycled it’s important you have made sure you have removed any sensitive information like passwords and bank details. Your local pc or mac store should be able to help with that. Alternatively, check with your service of choice to make sure they have a good reputation for handling old electronics in a secure way.
Laptop computer recycling used to be difficult, but now there are so many ways to recycle your old laptop. In fact, laptop recycling is quick, easy and it is a hassle-free way to help our planet.
- UN report: Time to seize opportunity, tackle challenge of e-waste. UN Environment Programme. January 24, 2019. https://www.unenvironment.org/news-and-stories/press-release/un-report-time-seize-opportunity-tackle-challenge-e-waste.
- Average Laptop Lifespan by Brand. Why Laptops! August 27, 2019. https://whylaptops.com/average-laptop-lifespan-by-brand/ .
- Can we fix our way out of the growing e-waste problem? BBC. February 17, 2020. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-51385344
- Toxic Chemicals in Computers Reloaded. Greenpeace. October 15, 2007. https://www.greenpeace.org/usa/research/toxic-chemicals-in-computers-r/ .
- How to recycle your old computer. Which? Retrieved March 19, 2020. https://computing.which.co.uk/hc/en-gb/articles/115004416785-How-to-recycle-your-old-computer.
- What to do with computers. Recycle Now. Retrieved March 19, 2020. https://www.recyclenow.com/what-to-do-with/computers-1.
- Dell Technologies: How to Recycle. Dell. Retrieved March 19, 2020. https://corporate.delltechnologies.com/en-gb/social-impact/advancing-sustainability/how-to-recycle.htm#/.
- Apple: National Services. Apple. Retrieved March 19, 2020. https://www.apple.com/uk/recycling/nationalservices/.
- Weeecharity. Retrieved March 19, 2020 https://weeecharity.co.uk/.