• Ray Jefferson


Updated: Mar 30, 2021

Some lucky children in Eccles received a boost last week when Barton Moss primary school took delivery of fifteen refurbished laptop computers from Rotary to help them with their schoolwork.

Children at the school showing off their laptop computers

Although children have recently returned to school following the lock down, there is a continuing need for computers in many homes to help children keep up. There is a long standing ‘digital divide’ between those who have a computer on the one hand and the 1.8 million children across the country who have no such advantage. In addition, since home working by adults continues to be an important feature for many families, children must often juggle for computer time with parents and even brothers and sisters.

Phoebe, Head Girl, and Nathan, Head Boy proudly receiving laptops on behalf of fellow pupils

By refurbishing laptop computers in this way there is a significant environmental benefit. Each laptop contains some unfriendly ingredients such as cadmium, cobalt, and mercury which can damage the environment if discarded unthinkingly. Many of the metals needed in computer construction are mined and refined in China where the power for it is mainly generated using coal, which itself entails the release of much CO2. Some of the metals needed are produced in countries with poor labour laws and practices.

Technology devices are one of the fastest growing components of the waste stream. If a laptop is dumped, lead, mercury, and other toxic components can contaminate groundwater with potential harm to the environment as well as people. Valuable materials such as steel, copper, aluminium, gold, platinum and palladium are also lost. It is sobering to think that one ton of circuit boards can contain 800 times as much gold as a ton of mined ore – and 40 times as much copper.

Parent governor, Garry Ramage with his children Summer and Ezra.

Refurbishing rather than discarding laptops also prevents plastic from polluting the wider environment and reduces the use of oil, water and energy needed for plastic production.

The successful Laptops4Schools project was set up by four local Rotary Clubs (Eccles, Bolton Daybreak, Bolton Lever and Turton) last month in partnership with Scan Computers and We Love Laptops, both of Horwich.

Already more than seventy laptops have been donated to the scheme which is refurbishing them to make them suitable for use by children. Thanks to the generosity of the donors and the partners it is possible to supply the laptops free of charge for schools to allocate to their children.

The latest news about the scheme can be seen at the dedicated website www.laptops4schools.org.uk.

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