Circular IT series: ILM Highland laptop refurbishment

A social enterprise and charity in the Scottish Highlands has launched a new service to refurbish unused and unwanted laptops – converting them into affordable, high-quality Chromebooks.

ILM Highland will sell the refurbished Chromebooks starting at £70 from its Alness store, providing affordable computing equipment to consumers in the north of Scotland – with plans to introduce online sales in the new year.

The project is expected to renovate at least 800 unused laptops over the course of 15 months.

“We’re delighted to be launching this new laptop refurbishment project at a time when every effort should be made to reuse and repair electronics, in order to reduce pollution and carbon emissions,” said Martin Macleod, CEO of ILM Highland.

Every year, 23.9kg of waste electronics and equipment are generated by every person in the UK. On top of this, each UK household is hoarding an average of 20 unused small electrical devices. There is a huge need to reuse this electronic equipment – ensuring it doesn’t end up in landfill. 

However, it’s estimated that only around 2.5-10% of electronics are currently reused.

“We’re firm believers in the circular economy – that electronic items can have a much longer life beyond their initial use, with simple refurbishment and repairs. That’s why we’re delighted to be providing these refurbished Chromebooks, to ensure that laptops from across the Highlands do not end up in landfill,” added Macleod.

The team note that they welcome any donations of old laptops that may be suitable for conversion. Ideally, laptops should come with any cables and batteries to ensure they are suitable for upcycling.

Circular economy accellerators

The ILM Laptop to Chromebook refurbishment project is supported by Zero Waste Scotland’s Resource Efficient Circular Economy Accelerator Programme and funded by the Scottish Government and European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).  

Laptops collected through ILM Highland’s public and corporate electrical recycling services will be used for the project – with the company also offering free uplift of old laptops to any businesses in the Highlands. 

ILM Highland will install new storage lockers at four of its most popular recycling collection sites in the coming months, in order to ensure items are donated in a saleable condition.

The scheme stems from research carried out by the University of Strathclyde’s ‘Recycle Design for Sustainability’ project, in conjunction with ILM Highland. It has been supported by Zero Waste Scotland’s Resource Efficient Circular Economy Accelerator Programme, funded by the Scottish Government and European Regional Development Fund.

Zero Waste Scotland

“We are really looking forward to working on this exciting project with ILM Highland. Choosing refurbished laptops instead of buying new is another way we can all reduce the amount of materials that we use up when we buy things like tech,” said Jayne Stirling, Business Investment Consultant at Zero Waste Scotland.

“Extending the lifespan of electronic devices will reduce our carbon footprint, which is essential to ending Scotland’s contribution to the climate crisis. This project cements Scotland’s reputation as a climate leader and showcases how a circular economy works in action,” she added.

Proceeds from the sale of Chromebooks will go towards expanding the scheme, as well as providing vital funding for the enterprise’s charitable services – providing home improvement support to vulnerable people in the Highlands, allowing them to live at home for longer.

As a social enterprise, ILM Highland says it is supporting vulnerable people in the Scottish Highlands to live at home – giving them greater independence and freedom. It achieves this through its Handyperson and Care & Repair services, providing assistance with small and large home repairs and improvements.

ILM Highland’s charitable services are supported by income generated from its professional and fully certified service for businesses to dispose of their waste electronic and electrical equipment; a domestic small and large electrical recycling service; and its shop in Alness and online, which sells a wide selection of new and refurbished electrical appliances, refurbished Chromebooks and spare parts for appliance repairs.

An example of ILM Highland’s refurbished Chromebook’s.


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