The Ultimate Guide to Ethical IT Disposal: Best Practices and Impact on the Environment

There are two sides of ethical IT disposal which we aim to bridge here at Computer Aid. The first is the connection between IT disposal and the rising problem with e-waste. This is causing immense damage to the environment and needs to be halted if we want to reverse the damage already done and protect our waterways, wildlife, and people. The second is the large gap between developed and marginalised communities, which is only made worse by the wasteful attitude of those living in well-developed places.

Ethical IT disposal, when done right, can create solutions to both of these problems – by taking unwanted devices and technology accessories from corporations and individuals, and refurbishing them for donation to those in need. This addresses the technology gap and saves unwanted devices from ending up in landfill.

Sounds like a no brainer, right? Now it’s time to take a closer look at how it actually works.

Why is e-waste such a problem?

The rising problem of e-waste is caused by the constant upgrades which render smartphones, laptops, computers, and other technical devices outdated within mere months of purchase.

With corporate organisations, offices, small businesses, and individuals all upgrading their devices more regularly, it is now easier than ever to simply throw unwanted and outdated items away – particularly given the immense amount of data which is stored and thus needs to be wiped from these items. Sadly, this creates piles of devices in landfill which contain harmful chemicals and hazardous toxins – many of which soak into the surrounding ground and find their way into water sources across the environment as the device starts to break down.

These toxins and chemicals end up in waterways which find their way into the food chain, causing immense damage along the way and wreaking havoc on the natural environment.

That’s before we even consider the impact that such a wasteful attitude has on the technology gap we mentioned earlier.

As marginalised communities and those without access to technology find themselves being left further and further behind, e-waste simply adds to a cycle which cannot be rectified without significant change. In short, when communities and schools don’t have access to technology, they cannot progress or learn the skills required to thrive in the modern and digital world – never moving away from the cycle.

Ethical IT disposal addresses both issues by taking devices away from the landfill chain and donating them to those in need, empowering them to develop new skills and learn what they need to in order to thrive in the digital age.

Our ethical solution to IT disposal

When your company, family, or you as an individual donate an unwanted computer or laptop to Computer Aid, it passes through a number of stages which ensure it is first stripped of all data to protect you and your personal information, before being assessed as a prospective donation to a local school, community group, or international charity.

With partners both here in the UK and overseas, we work to ensure that every device we can refurbish and donate goes somewhere where it will be genuinely beneficial – empowering teachers to access more resources for pupils, helping communities stay connected, and introducing international communities to the digital age.

Once a device has been stripped of its data, we check it for damage and complete any repair or refurbishing work to render it suitable for donation. Any items which cannot be donated are disposed of safely by our team, removing any potentially functional or usable parts before disposal.

Whatever happens to your device, we will be able to provide you with information on what we did with your technology and, if passed on to a secondary owner, the impact it has had.

Here at Computer Aid, we understand that both individuals and companies want to do their bit for sustainability and for the community, but that this isn’t always easy with so much conflicting information and advice thrown around. By partnering with us, we make it easy for you to practise ethical IT disposal whether for one device or a whole office full of unwanted computers.

Find out about the impact that our existing partners have had through the case studies on our website, or get in touch directly to learn more about how to become a part of the change we are making!