Old computers to be given second life

The University has launched an environmentally-friendly project to reuse older computers rather than recycling them.

PC reuse

Funded by Zero Waste Scotland, the £25,000 pilot scheme takes unwanted machines from a department, upgrades the software and hardware, and passes them to an area that needs them.

A goal has been set to internally reuse 100 PC by August 2016. To date, 20 PCs have been reused as part of the project.

Reusing vs recycling

Reusing PCs is more environmentally friendly than recycling. It reduces the resources needed to produce new items, the costs associated with buying new equipment, and the energy used during recycling.

Computers are donated to the scheme because their processing power may be insufficient for a department’s needs. Reused computers are used for basic word processing or internet browsing.

Towards a circular economy

As part of the University’s commitment to reduce consumption and waste, the project is one way it is working to create a so-called circular economy – the sustainable reuse of resources – within its own practices.

We recycle around 3000 PC machines annually but as many of three-quarters of them could still be used.

Alan PeddieProject Coordinator

Rebooting local communities

The University also donates computers between five and eight years old to Remade in Edinburgh, a social enterprise which teaches repair skills and sells the rebooted PCs for low prices to local communities in Leith.

PCs more than eight years old are currently recycled via the licenced Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment provider, CCL North, with a clear goal to increase reuse.

All computers’ memories have been safely wiped prior to donation or recycling.

Socially responsible technology

As a founding member of Electronics Watch, the University has been working to make its electronics use more socially responsible.

In March 2016, we became the first Higher Education institution in the UK to establish a Conflict Minerals Policy which ultimately seeks to help to protect vulnerable communities by avoiding the use of rare earth minerals that fund conflict.


For more information on the project, or to donate pcs, please contact Alan Peddie.

Alan Peddie

Projects Coordinator

Contact details


  • Alan joined us from Estates Operations where he helped to achieve a Silver in the Sustainability Awards. He works on resource efficiency and the training that our department offers for staff and students.