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How to dispose of a laptop safely

You can’t just drop your laptop in the bin when it’s finished with. Even if it’s broken and won’t start up the machine will store sensitive information about you that you’ll need wiped. Since 2007 when the WEEE directive came into force, there have been set rules on how to dispose of computers and other electrical devices. We’ll tell you how to dispose of a laptop and how to recycle it too so you can stay the right side of the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment directive.
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WEEE directive

Since 2007, stores selling electrical goods have been obliged to take back the customer’s old goods so that they can be recycled properly. When you buy a new electrical item, the store will offer to take the old one off your hands. With something like a laptop, you probably won’t wait until the device is broken before you upgrade so there’s a good chance that you’ll have to take care of the disposal yourself.

Recycle schemes

Your local council runs a recycle scheme for these sorts of items. You’ll find out more about the scheme near you if you visit the Environment Agency’s site gov.uk/government/organisations/environment-agency.

Security

When you get rid of something like a laptop or a smartphone, you’ll need to remove all the data stored on it. Years’ worth of internet searches and personal files could hide data like logon information and passwords which you’d forgotten about so get a specialist program that’s designed to erase this form of data for good. You’ll find a good basic program for free at Killdisk.com so this should be your starting point.

Giving the laptop away

If the device is still in good working order, then passing it over to someone who doesn’t have a laptop just makes sense. This is the easiest way of recycling the device but you’ll also need to carry out the security steps mentioned above.

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