Computer recycling: Can PCs save the world? - PC Retail

Computer recycling: Can PCs save the world?

Recycling can be a great way of reclaiming extra value from any excess, broken or disused stock
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Picture the situation: you’ve got a bunch of old second-hand computers that are out of date and out of demand. 

No problem – you can just stick them on an online third-party marketplace like Amazon, eBay, OnBuy or SynMarket, right? But what if no one buys them, or if they’re broken? 

Instead of spending time and effort taking them down the tip yourself, you could use the services of another company to recycle them, save the environment and you might even be able to get some cash for them, too.

IT recycling is a surprisingly competitive sector, so it’s worth looking around first, getting quotes and finding the right company to meet your needs.

“It’s very competitive but it is also characterised by lots of small operators,” Rufus Hirsch, founder of office clearance firm Clearance Solutions, tells PCR. “Some are very well run, but there’s a lot who are not.”

“Most of our business comes from offices and not retail businesses. What I would say is that [retailers] may have more value than they realise in old stock, and its a great way to clear clutter.”

Clearance-solutions.co.uk covers Central and Southern England, and removes “everything” including IT and other goods from domestic and commercial properties. It often pays for items with resale value and charges for hazardous goods like CRT monitors.

Other firms like charity Computer Aid International and B2B recycling company Prism focus on giving unwanted computers to good causes. Although Prism charges for collection, the firm goes through the items and passes certain working goods to charities.

Gary Smith, co-founder of Prism, says: “A lot of what businesses get rid of can still be reused, as long as you grade and assess the quality of the equipment. If you can’t reuse it, it goes to a reclaimer – some of whom may recycle. Every business and retailer needs to think about their environmental output. We have an obligation to do so.”

Clearance Solutions covers Central and Southern England, and removes “everything” including IT and other goods from domestic and commercial properties (above)

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WHAT ABOUT PRIVATE DATA?

As the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) continues to levy fines, most notably at public sector organisations such as the NHS Surrey scandal, UK ICT public sector solutions provider Stone Group (www.stonegroup.co.uk) says it's important that organisations realise the implications of IT asset disposal policies, specifically concerning private data on recycled machines.

It says that data wiping/destruction methods need to be suitable for the classification of data and media type, while a visit to the provider’s facilities should also be considered to verify the process and security. 

Martin Ruston, group compliance manager at Stone Group, said: "The increasing focus on data protection legislation and its enforcement are factors which those responsible for data should be placing high importance on. 

"The associated commercial costs of heavy legal penalties for allowing a breach in data protection, which compromises individuals or clients confidentiality, could potentially ruin organisations of all sizes and damage their reputation in the long term.”

Steve Mellings, founder of the Asset Disposal & Information Security Alliance (ADISA), added: "Awareness of the importance of IT asset disposal is slowly increasing in the end user market, however few organisations have formal policies in place to control the process. Simple but essential procedures such as having an accurate inventory of equipment being released to a third party are still quite a rarity."

CASH FOR TECH

There are plenty of websites that also offer cash for used or broken tech. 

CI Recycle is one such site, recently launched by computer systems and services provider Centerprise International. Consumers need to post products in before receiving payment, and the service only accepts smaller items like smartphones, tablets and laptops.

However, CI Recycle can also offer businesses a more tailored bulk recycling arrangement for bigger computer equipment to be recycled. 

Cas Paton, web programme director at Centerprise International, who heads up the CI Recycle project, comments: “We want to do our bit for the environment by recycling old electronics rather than continually manufacturing new electronics.

“The consumer recycling industry is packed with ambiguity. Many recyclers offer high prices but the consumers face major downgrading on price for small wear and tear, and often feel cheated.

“We will be offering an honest and transparent pricing policy to remove all ambiguity. For the first time in the UK, consumers can sell their electronics to a key industry player, and sell with the confidence that they will be quickly be paid the amount they are expecting.”

CI Recycle is also WEEE-certified and has around ten different recycling certifications – including a waste carrier’s licence from the government Environment Agency.

WEEE is short for Waste Electronic and Electrical Equipment, and should always be looked for when choosing an IT recycling company. Regulations were put in place in 2006 to reduce the amount of waste electrical goods being disposed of, with electrical equipment producers having to pay for reuse, recycling and recovery.

Smith adds: “Compliance with WEEE regulations is forcing small and medium sized businesses to think more carefully about how they dispose of old IT equipment.”

PCD Computer Recycling is one firm that offers a free collection and disposal service to UK businesses, including data wiping and WEEE certification. It claims to have saved almost 14 million kilograms of electronic waste from landfill so far.

That means fewer computers wasting space and more room for better, newer and more efficient products – something the PC and tech trade can surely be proud of.

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