£66 million programme in Scotland to recycle old computers

Festive boost for Highland communities and children


Festive boost for communities and children in the Highlands

An innovative project to recycle thousands of computers for use by communities and deserving children across the Scottish Highlands has been launched, in a festive season boost for many in the area.


The huge initiative to renovate equipment for re-use instead of landfill is funded by technology company Fujitsu and The Highland Council.


It is a spin-off from the current £66 million programme to replace and upgrade The Highland Council’s office and schools IT systems and assist the council in meeting targets to reduce its energy use and carbon emissions.


Fujitsu is investing over £300,000 in the recycling project to have up to 3,500 computers processed by specialist north of Scotland social enterprise ReBOOT and then redistributed across the region.


And the first batch of more than 60 laptops will go out shortly to community organisations who will use them to support their activities.


More than 350 Highland community organisations, working in areas from disability support to sports activity, are in line to receive 600 of the recycled devices over the next year, along with young people who meet specific criteria.


Children looked after by the local authority will receive equipment and up to 100 Highland Young Carers – children who look after relatives at home – will also be offered three-day visits with the company, in which they will learn how the rebuilding process takes place and then build their own computers to take home and use.


In total, 10,000 devices will have their hard-drives wiped before being re-built or stripped of their materials for recycling to avoid landfill. It is expected that up to 3,500 will be fit for re-use, with at least 1,100 prepared for community distribution in each of the next three years alone.


A survey to assess the need for equipment was circulated to a wide range of community groups by the Highland Council working in partnership with Voluntary Action Highland. A further survey will follow later in 2012, to pick up new requests once distribution of the first devices is well under way. Groups wishing to put their electronic contact details on the circulation list can do so by emailing policy6@highland.gov.uk.


ReBOOT is adding two more people to its workforce of four staff, four trainees and more than 40 volunteers to meet the high volume of work under the contract. They will work alongside Fujitsu in Inverness as well as at their own premises in Forres.


As part of the contract, ReBOOT’s social enterprise role will also include delivering  a range of new training programmes for unemployed individuals seeking work, volunteer opportunities and work experience for school pupils. In total over 100 training places are to be offered.


Fujitsu’s Scotland Country Director – Public Sector, Brodie Shepherd, said: “Computers and other IT hardware that no longer meet the complex needs of large organisations are still a valuable asset and, far from lying redundant or going to landfill, can often have a productive and welcome second life. We aim to maximise the benefits of this for the Highlands, as a region to which we are committed and are working to develop as a base for some of our wider national and international business activity.”


Councillor Carolyn Wilson, Chairman of The Highland Council’s Resources Committee said: “We very much welcome this scheme as it provides a remarkable combination of community, environmental and economic benefits, including the creation of direct and skilled employment.”


ReBOOT became the north of Scotland’s first dedicated computer recycling project when it was set up 14 years ago, and has progressed to become a Microsoft Registered Refurbisher. Manager Lee McGrath said: “We operate as a self-sustaining charitable company and this project is our biggest single contract yet. It represents not only a major environmental and community commitment by Fujitsu and The Highland Council but also a significant step in this company’s successful development.”