ILM Highland launches laptop refurbishment scheme to reduce electrical waste

A new service launched by a social enterprise and charity in the Scottish Highlands will refurbish unused and unwanted laptops – converting them into affordable, high-quality Chromebooks.

ILM Highland will sell the refurbished Chromebooks starting at £70 from its Alness store, providing affordable computing equipment to consumers in the north of Scotland – with plans to introduce online sales in the new year.

Two new jobs will be created to support the project, which is expected to renovate at least 800 unused laptops over the course of 15 months.

Martin Macleod, CEO of ILM Highland, said: “We’re delighted to be launching this new laptop refurbishment project at a time when every effort should be made to reuse and repair electronics, in order to reduce pollution and carbon emissions.

“Every year, 23.9kg of waste electronics and equipment are generated by every person in the UK. On top of this, each UK household is hoarding an average of 20 unused small electrical devices. There is a huge need to reuse this electronic equipment – ensuring it doesn’t end up in landfill. However, it’s estimated that only around 2.5-10% of electronics are currently reused.

“We’re firm believers in the circular economy – that electronic items can have a much longer life beyond their initial use, with simple refurbishment and repairs. That’s why we’re delighted to be providing these refurbished Chromebooks, to ensure that laptops from across the Highlands do not end up in landfill.

“We welcome any donations of old laptops that may be suitable for conversion. Ideally, laptops should come with any cables and batteries to ensure they are suitable for upcycling.”

Laptops collected through ILM Highland’s public and corporate electrical recycling services will be used for the project – with the company also offering free uplift of old laptops to any businesses in the Highlands. ILM Highland will install new storage lockers at four of its most popular recycling collection sites in the coming months, in order to ensure items are donated in a saleable condition.

The scheme stems from research carried out by the University of Strathclyde’s ‘Recycle Design for Sustainability’ project, in conjunction with ILM Highland. It has been supported by Zero Waste Scotland’s Resource Efficient Circular Economy Accelerator Programme, funded by the Scottish Government and European Regional Development Fund.

Jayne Stirling, Business Investment Consultant at Zero Waste Scotland, said: “We are really looking forward to working on this exciting project with ILM Highland. Choosing refurbished laptops instead of buying new is another way we can all reduce the amount of materials that we use up when we buy things like tech. Extending the lifespan of electronic devices will reduce our carbon footprint, which is essential to ending Scotland’s contribution to the climate crisis. This project cements Scotland’s reputation as a climate leader and showcases how a circular economy works in action.”

The refurbishment project builds on ILM Highland’s commitment to reducing electrical waste heading for landfill – and its aim to reuse and refurbish electricals wherever possible, to extend their lifespan and protect the environment.

Proceeds from the sale of Chromebooks will go towards expanding the scheme, as well as providing vital funding for the enterprise’s charitable services – providing home improvement support to vulnerable people in the Highlands, allowing them to live at home for longer.

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