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What Can You Do With Your Old Computer?

By: Sarah O'Hara BA (hons) - Updated: 22 Oct 2012 | comments*Discuss
 
Computer Recycline Computer Re-use

If you have an unwanted computer it’s likely that it either packed up and stopped working or you have a new one because you needed (or just wanted!) a flashier new model.

Because computer technology is changing all the time many people’s computers never reach the end of their natural life. This is despite the fact that computers are built to last for many years.

Both business and individuals get rid of computers everyday and many end up in landfill sites. Computers include a number of highly toxic components so it is far far better to recycle and re-use computers than to throw them away.

So, what should you do with the old computer you are left with? In fact a PC that is useless to you could be very useful to someone else.

Donate Your Computer

If your computer is still working it’s likely that someone else would be glad of it. If friends or family don’t want the computer it’s worth asking at local schools and libraries as they are often cash-strapped and need computers.

You could also offer your computer on a give-away site such as Freecycle. If the computer is up-to-date and working well you might even be able to sell it. You’ll only get a fraction of its original value but every little helps.

Re-use of Computers

There are now a wide range of companies who will accept old computers so that they can refurbish them, recycle them or strip them down for parts. These organisations are sometimes commercial operations and others are charities.

The company will often collect the computer from your home and some will even pay for computers. Once they have received the computer they will check how well it works and refurbish it so that they can pass it on to schools and other organisations in the developing world. The computers are targeted at those who wouldn’t normally be able to afford one.

If the computer is not working, many organisations will strip the computer for parts that they can use and make sure that the computer is recycled as efficiently and safely as possible.

Data Protection and Getting Rid of Your Computer

If you are going to pass your computer on in any way you may be worried that the data stored on your computer could fall into the wrong hands, especially in the wake of today’s heightened fears about identity fraud and other cyber crime.

Some computer re-use and recycling companies will wipe the data from your computer for you, while others will say that it’s your responsibility.

To remove data from your computer you can either over-write it using specialist software or remove the hard drive.

The WEEE Directive

Legislation regarding throwing computers away came in in 2007. This is known as the WEEE Directive - WEEE is an acronym for Waste from Electrical and Electronic Equipment. The legislation is expressly aimed at reducing the amount of electrical equipment that ends up in landfill.

The Directive makes retailers, manufacturers, consumers and businesses responsible for disposing of old computers and electrical equipment in the correct way. If you or your business disposes of more than 15 monitors and computers a year you will need to abide by these regulations.

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