There is a vast amount of electronic equipment that is 10 years old or older, still in daily use today. This technology is slowly being obsoleted by manufactures no longer offering software updates, and forcing people onto newer technology. Sometimes old laptops simply stop working for one reason or another. But when these laptops stop working, or are no longer wanted to be reused what happens to them?
For us, old laptops are a source of many different parts and accessories that can be used as spares, or recycled. We have recently split down a ‘turn of the century’ (2000 ish that is) laptop, and have shown below all the parts that can be reclaimed, and what can be done with them.
- Circuit Boards
Circuit boards can be sent for specialist recycling. Sometimes the boards contain a good amount of metals, as well as the components.
It seems that all electronics contain plastic of one type or another. Whilst this currently doesn’t hold alot of value, it can all be recycled. We separate all the plastics from electronics and Â ensure that this gets recycled.
Although many screws are small in size, and can quite easierly be lost or thrown in with other metals for recycling, there is a small market for the screws from old laptops. Sometimes screws get lost and we typically keep all the screws from models together, for retail as spares. If we get to much stock of screws in, we can send the screws for metal recycling.
4. Assorted Metal Parts
Older laptops tend to contain more metal parts than the newer models available today. These parts are normally tin or aluminium, and are used inside the laptop to hold parts in place, or as supports. We would typically split these down into their various metal types, and send them to be recycled.
5. Fans and Motors
If fans are motors are still working, we store these in stock and typically sell them as spare parts. In alot of older equipment, if not properly looked after, the fans can seize up, so spares are always needed. If they no longer work, we send them to be recycled.
6. Various Cables
These cables are collected with others, and sent for recycling. Typically there is no market for reuse of them, however we do get the odd request.
In alot of laptops and computers, there are batteries on the circuit boards (small green item in image) as well the main power battery. The smaller ones are kept secure and sent to be recycled. The main ones are tested, and sold as replacements if they pass our stringent testing process.
8. Memory Sticks
All old memory is tested to make sure it still works, and if it does, it is reused. Any memory that doesn’t pass the test is sent for recycling.
9. Hard Drive
With older laptops, many come with hard drives that have a smaller capacity than what is needed in today’s equipment. Due to this, alot of hard drives are first destroyed, and then sent for recycling. We physically destroy the hard drive, ensuring that any data still contained on there is also destroyed.
For hard drives that can be reused, we use specialist software to wipe all the data, reinstall an operating system (if needed) and reuse.
We maintain a stock of old laptop keyboards, as these are used as spare parts. Being one of the few moving parts on a laptop, the keyboard can take a battering (and wine), and may need changing. Keyboards that no longer work can be split between the plastic and metal parts and recycled.
One of the joys of recycling old laptops, is seeing all the accessories that they come in with. Many of these are from the time when the internet started to take off. This includes many cables and parts for modems, networks and communications. Whilst some of these can be reused, or there are collectors for others, many unfortunately end up being recycled.
As you can see, alot of old laptop WEEE waste can be recycled or reused, even if the laptop is 20 years old! We take great care to ensure that as much as possible is reused or recycled. This helps the environment, and companies with their WEEE Compliance.