What is the UK government advice for disposal of computers?

The UK government advises on responsible disposal and recycling of computers and other electronic equipment through the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) regulations.

These regulations aim to reduce the amount of electronic waste incinerated or sent to landfill sites by promoting recovery, reuse, and recycling of products and components. The regulations cover a wide range of electrical and electronic equipment, detailing obligations for producers, such as manufacturers and importers, and distributors, including retailers. Producers are required to register annually and, depending on the amount of electronic equipment they put on the market, may need to join a producer compliance scheme. Distributors must offer free takeback of WEEE and provide customers with information on how to dispose of their WEEE responsibly. This includes accepting WEEE for free from customers supplied with like-for-like products and ensuring that all WEEE taken back is recorded and retained for at least four years.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) emphasizes that recycling of WEEE is a specialist area due to the presence of hazardous substances like arsenic, cadmium, lead, and mercury in many devices. The regulations ensure that these substances are properly managed to mitigate health risks. The treatment of WEEE varies by the category of waste and technology used, with some facilities using large-scale shredding technologies and others opting for manual or automated disassembly. The guidance outlines standards for treatment, recycling, and recovery of materials from WEEE, including the removal of hazardous components prior to shredding or disassembly.

For individuals looking to dispose of laptops, desktop computers, and accessories, the Recycle Your Electricals campaign suggests several steps before recycling. These include backing up files, removing memory cards and batteries, and erasing personal data. Unwanted electronics should be bagged up until they can be taken to a recycling point. The campaign also encourages considering repair, donation, or sale of old electricals before recycling. Retailers now offer takeback services, allowing customers to hand over their old electronics for recycling when buying new ones, providing over 10,000 new recycling points across the UK.

For more detailed information on complying with these regulations and finding your nearest recycling point, visit the search results.

The UK government doesn't offer a single centralized page on computer disposal, but various departments provide guidance depending on your situation:

General Advice:

Additional Resources:


Can I Get my PC Collected for Free?

Not usually.

We only collect from businesses under normal circumstances. If you are physically disabled or have an unusual amount of equipment that needs collecting then by all means give us a call and we will see when someone is next passing by and can drop in and collect your items

Do you recycle anything other than computers?

We recycle computers and peripherals only!

We do not recycle electrical items such as televisions or DVD players or any other household electrical items.

Call us on 01184027979 for any specific information on our computer recycling/disposal and data destruction services.