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Heriot-Watt partners with Edinburgh Remakery in Tech Donation Box initiative

Staff and students at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh are being invited to donate unwanted personal laptops, smart phones and other tech items to a local social enterprise that diverts waste from landfill and refurbishes old IT kit so it can be used again – including by people facing digital isolation and poverty.

The University has taken delivery of a Tech Donation Box from Edinburgh Remakery, who repair, refurbish and responsibly recycle computing and smart phone electronic waste – ‘ e-waste’ – as part of their vision to create a culture of sustainable, waste-free living that helps protect the planet for future generations.

The social enterprise also gives 20% of all its donations to charity to help people facing digital isolation and poverty – and supports disadvantaged and vulnerable communities through initiatives including skill-building and training opportunities.

The Tech Donation Box is part of a Memorandum of Understanding that Heriot-Watt has signed with Edinburgh Remakery to look at future collaboration opportunities in line with the University’s Global Environmental Sustainability strategy.

This is the University’s commitment and action plan to reduce its environmental impact, enhance climate mitigation initiatives and contribute to sector-wide decarbonisation efforts.

Lindsay Wilson, Global Sustainability Strategic Programme Lead at Heriot-Watt University, said: “We’re embedding sustainability across what we do at the University and this project is part of our Sustainable Technology Action Plan.

“Edinburgh Remakery’s Tech Donation Box scheme is a great initiative for us to support digital inclusion as well as raising awareness of e-waste and how we can work together as a community to help combat it. We’re also really pleased to be supporting a local social enterprise.”

Fraser Muir, Director of Information Services at Heriot-Watt University, said: “With some refurbishment and repair, end-of-life IT equipment can often start a whole new life that helps people and the planet in so many ways. Our Tech Donation Box helps the University play its part in the circular economy and we’re pleased to have it installed in our library for the start of the new term for staff and students who may have been doing a clear-out of their old tech over the summer.”

A circular economy involves repairing, reusing and redesigning products, to keep them is use for as long as possible. This minimises waste and demand on raw materials and reduces carbon emissions.

Around 1.45 million tonnes a year of e-waste is generated from homes and businesses in the UK, with much of it going directly to landfill and impacting the climate, according to Edinburgh Remakery. The social enterprise saved 83,000 Kgs in carbon emissions from its Tech Donation Box programme in 2022, and in 2021, collected 39 tonnes of e-waste. Of this, 73% was successfully repaired and reused. Edinburgh Remakery also helped 412 people out of digital poverty by donating tech to them through its gifting programmes.

Asrar Qazi, Carbon Project Officer at Edinburgh Remakery, said: “We are really excited to have one of our Tech Donation Boxes at Heriot-Watt University as part of its sustainability plan.

“This initiative offers students and staff an excellent opportunity not only to responsibly dispose of their unused technology, but also extends a helping hand to people experiencing digital isolation at a time when the cost of living is escalating.”

Edinburgh Remakery repairs and refurbishes everything it can before passing it on to be reused. Anything not able to be repaired is dismantled, with the parts used to repair other items. Anything that can’t be reused is responsibly recycled, to ensure as little as possible goes to waste.  Refurbished IT kit is available through Edinburgh Remakery’s online shop and its office in Newkirkgate Shopping Centre in Leith, Edinburgh.

Donations of old electronics that can be accepted to the Edinburgh Remakery’s Tech Donation Box include laptops and Macbooks; tablets and iPads; smart phones; DSLR cameras; general cables; chargers; headphones; wifi routers; smart watches, and peripherals, such as keyboards, webcams, and mice.

Items which can’t be accepted include desktop computers and other large items, printers and general household electrical goods such as toasters, kettles, lamps and hair dryers. The maximum size of donation that can be accepted is 7cm x 44cm.

The Tech Donation Box at Heriot-Watt University is located in the Cameron Smail Library, near the main reception of the University’s Edinburgh campus in Riccarton to the West of Edinburgh.

Heriot-Watt has sponsored the Tech Donation Box at Silver Level, meaning it will remain on campus for six months. If successful, the University will look to extend this period.

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