Two ways IT recycling can produce brilliant new items

Published On March 6, 2018 | By admin | Technology

IT recycling in London and other cities is commonplace, but have you ever wondered what happens to unwanted IT equipment?

Sure, you’re probably aware that working computers may find new homes, while some functional components may be salvaged and reused. When computers are broken down into their raw materials, however, what becomes of those materials?

Dell’s jewellery initiative

When you’re handing over a computer for IT recycling in London, the last thing you may think about is how it could become someone’s wedding ring. Computing giant Dell recently shocked attendees at CES 2018 in Las Vegas, however, when it announced it was launching its own jewellery range together with actress Nikki Reed.

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The ‘Bayou with Love’ limited jewellery collection is made in the USA and includes items like cufflinks, earrings and rings. What makes it special, however, is that these items are made from gold recovered from computer components.

Dell’s gold reclamation process was developed in collaboration with WistronGreenTech. Compared with traditional gold mining, this process has 99% less impact on the environment, so in addition to appealing to tech nerds, it’s also an eco-friendly alternative to freshly mined gold. Dell claims to have recycled 50 million tons of gold since 2012, and it plans to use 100 million tons of the recycled precious metal in its products by 2020.

New computers

Have you wondered how great it would be if waste computers would provide all the materials for the new ones? What if enough materials from IT recycling in London could be reclaimed for use in the city’s new computers?

While this prospect is still some way off, Dell made another step towards a true circular economy with its plans to use its reclaimed gold in new computers, beginning with the Latitude 5285 2-in-1, which is due for release this year. In addition, it has also already been making efforts to close the plastic supply chain.

Many people believe that once they drop off an old laptop for IT recycling in London, the plastic will simply be melted down and reused in similar applications. The sad fact, though, is that materials are often ‘downcycled’, which means they are not of a sufficient quality for reuse in an equivalent product (a new laptop in this case). These materials may be fine for less demanding applications, but it means new laptops always need new plastic.

Closed-loop systems, however, involve constantly reusing the same materials over and over. There are of course considerable challenges to recovering plastic in this manner, so Dell decided to rethink its designs with easy recycling in mind. Replacing glue with snap-fits, for example, simplifies the recycling process once a laptop is retired. By feeding old plastics into equivalent new products, there is less need for the manufacturer to use new plastics.

While few people would disagree with such an environmentally friendly production method, some may not want to pay a premium for it. In addition to achieving low energy products, however, Dell claims its closed-loop system is slightly less expensive than using virgin plastic. It also believes the initiative will deliver more savings as it scales up.

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