Tech recycling scheme in Edinburgh

Edinburgh Remakery tech gifting programme encourages residents to donate unwanted laptops and other tech so it can be repaired, refurbished and passed on to those who can use it. 

We’ve reported a lot recently on efforts to tackle digital poverty and build great digital inclusion. As anyone with an interest in tech will know, it’s ever more quick and easy to access public services through apps and sites. What’s more, these online services can save local authorities money. Unfortunately, this also means an increasing gulf between those who do and don’t have access online. 

Tech donation box which reads - you can drop off laptops, tablets, smartphones, cameras and cables here. Photo courtesy of the City of Edinburgh Council

Photo courtesy of the City of Edinburgh Council

Now the City of Edinburgh Council has come up with a novel approach to bridging this ‘digital divide’, by getting the ‘dos’ to donate to the ‘don’ts’. 

The council partnered with the award-winning social enterprise Edinburgh Remakery, an organisation that is committed to diverting waste from landfill by promoting a culture of repair and reuse. In 2022, Edinburgh Remakery’s efforts made savings equivalent to an estimated 83,087kg of CO2, which it says is as much as 100m smartphones being fully charged or 1,400 trees grown for 10 years. The enterprise has already helped 400 people out of digital poverty through its tech gifting programme. 

Residents across Edinburgh are now being invited to contribute to the scheme by donating their unwanted tech. The partnership is after a great range of items: laptops and MacBooks; tablets and iPads; smartphones; DSLR cameras; chargers; general cables; headphones; routers; smart watches; keyboards, webcams and mice. The Edinburgh Remakery website details how even the smallest electronics components can be useful. 

Such items can easily be handed in at donation centres at Wester Hailes Library (October 17 – November 20) and South East Locality Office (November 21 – December 13). (Earlier this year, donations were also accepted at Edinburgh Central Library.)  

Cammy Day, Council Leader for the City of Edinburgh, says: ‘The idea is to make it as easy as possible for anyone to pass on their unwanted technology instead of throwing it away. An estimated 24 million old smartphones are kept as ‘spares’ in homes across the UK in cupboards or drawers so I’d encourage everyone across the city to have a clear out where you can and donate your old phones or other tech items to those on low incomes who really need them. 

‘This project is also about tackling electronic waste, which is one of the fastest-growing and most polluting waste streams in the UK.’ 

Elaine Brown, Chief Executive Officer at Edinburgh Remakery, adds: ‘The impact your donations will make cannot be underestimated.  Together we can contribute to the city’s ambitious net zero targets, ensure that tech can get a new lease of life and prevent valuable, finite resources going to landfill.  In addition, we will be able to give the gift of connectivity to people in our community experiencing digital poverty.  Together we can waste less and live more!’ 

Residents should note that the donation scheme does not include printers of any sort, or general household electrical goods such as toasters, kettles, lamps and hair dryers. These can be recycled at household waste recycling centres – and some local shops may take small items for recylcing. For more information, see Recycle Your Electricals.

In related news:

Free public Wi-Fi for Oadby & Wigston

Tackling Wakefield’s digital divide with cafes and free laptops

Interview: Jo Lovell Director of Inclusive Communities at Cwmpas on tackling digital exclusion in Wales


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