Recycle Your Computers with Lowtech!
Many PC recyclers are just that: recyclers. That means that they take the old machines that you paid good money for just a few years ago, and they smash them up for the small quantity of base and precious metals within them. At Lowtech, that's our very last resort. First, if your old computer is of a reasonably high specification (to us that means a Pentium 233mHz or better) we'll reuse the machine in our Access Space, so that members of the public can use it to learn, create and communicate online.
If the machines you give us are of lower specification, we'll do our best to reuse them in Redundant technology Initiative's art projects - which aren't just a lot of fun, they also serve to raise more and more awareness of the issue of technology disposal.
We also give surplus machines to local charities and nonprofit groups - but only if we're convinced that the strategy that they have for reusing the machines is legal (we recommend using free, open-source software to avoid the need to pay software licence fees) and genuinely helpful. Recently in our region some projects have distributed low-cost reccyled computers to disadvantaged people. The catch is that they haven't provided useful training and support - so the machines have gone unused. We very much favour giving to schemes which include sustained help and support - which our Access Space model is designed to provide.
Only if all of these strategies fail will we recycle your computers with an approved, registered recycler.
If your donate your old machines to Lowtech, we give you the following assuarnces:
- Your data will be destroyed. We overwrite the whole operating system, including all your data, when we reinstall computers with our own software suite.
- We won't "reuse" your software, casuing licence problems for you. We only use free and open-source software which we install ourselves.
- You are absolved from any responsibility for electrical safety issues. We receive machines on the understanding that they may, or may not work. If we plug them in and they explode, that's our problem, not yours.
- We can provide you with affirmation that we have received your computers and that they are now written off for tax purposes.
- We can provide you with affirmation that, when your computers finally give up the ghost, we'll dispose of them through a registered recycler in compliance with regulations.
- We won't resell your computers.
Can We Collect?
We can arrange to collect large donations of reasonably high specification machines. Please contact us to find out whether this will be possible in your case - it depends on what you're proposing to give us, how far away you are, and what our current collection itinerary is. In general, we'll be tempted almost anywhere in the UK by a whole van-load of functional Pentium systems (that's 40 to 60 units). We travel to the South of England several times per year, and try to make up a full vanload every time we go. If you want a very approximate rule of thumb, we won't travel more than 4 miles per Pentium PC you give us.
However, if you have jsut a few machines, or they're lower than Pentium specification, then all is not lost - simply bring the machines to us at Access Space (open Tuesday-Saturday, 11am-7pm) next time you're near Sheffield. We recommend not making special journeys to recycle - simply because the journey itself uses more of the earth's resources. But if you're curious to visit Access Space as well, then why not?