Recycling village could help bridge digital divide
ENVIRONMENT Editor TONY HENDERSON on one man’s mission to cut waste.
COMPUTER recycler Ernie Nolan is set to cast his net wider in a personal mission to make life greener. Ernie is a director of Acorn Computer Recycling, which refurbishes donated junked machines and also uses spare parts to build new systems.
The community interest company is based at the Point Pleasant industrial estate in Wallsend, North Tyneside, and also has a shop on the town’s Station Road.
Acorn gives refurbished and rebuilt computer systems to community or charity groups.
It also offers systems for as little as £39 to low-income customers in a bid to bridge the “digital divide” between those who have access to computers and the internet and those who do not.
Now Ernie is planning to open a re-use and recycling village to serve North Tyneside.
He is looking at a factory-sized property and is due to meet North Tyneside Council officials to discuss his proposals.
As well as continuing the Acorn operation, the village would re-use, refurbish and recycle everything from white goods such as washing machines, furniture, and general household goods to wood, paint and plastics.
The village, like Acorn, would provide skills training, student work placement and jobs, especially for the long-term unemployed and socially disadvantaged.
Ernie says: “We hope the council supports us as part of its drive towards a sustainable society. There are people and groups doing bits and pieces but nobody is doing it under one roof.”
The plan is for people to bring their cast-off items to the village and at the same time shop for low-cost refurbished or hand-in goods.
“Just look at how many people go to car boot sales,” says Ernie.
“We are a throwaway society, compared to the days when people had items repaired or kept them for as long as possible.
“A re-use and recycling village makes sense. It’s not rocket science.
“It would put redundant IT and other equipment back into use in the local community, and reduce the use of landfill and dumping of equipment and the loss of resources and training opportunities for the community.”
An educational facility would also be provided at the village for youngsters to learn about recycling and sustainability.
Another feature would be a cycle repair, restoration, sales and hire project.
“We believe that the village would be in an ideal location to make good use of over 30 miles of North Tyneside’s historic waggonways network for people hiring cycles,” says Ernie.
“Also available for sale at the village would be goods like eco-friendly shopping bags, cleaning materials, garden bags, compost bins, wormery kits, water-saving devices plus information on energy-saving devices.”
Former shipyard worker Ernie had been unemployed for some years because of a severe back problem.
Then he took a college computer course for people with disabilities.
“It gave me the ability and the confidence to set up my own business,” says Ernie.
That was in 2004 when he started his computer repair and sales venture.
When he realised the scale of unwanted computers and their disposal, he set up Acorn.
He says: “ People get rid of computers because they develop a problem, or they no longer meet their requirements, or they are chasing the latest technology.
“They wrongly think that their computers are of no interest to anyone else. So lots of people have unwanted computers in cupboards or in the corners of rooms, and they are no use to anybody there.”
Ernie also believes it is vital to provide low-cost systems because the information and services online today make access increasingly important in everyday life.
“A recent report stated that 46% of the households in North Tyneside do not have access to the internet.
“We believe that anyone who has not got the equipment or the connection can be classified as being disadvantaged,” he says.
Acorn can be contacted on 0191 263 4373 or 0191 263 5010.
We are a throwaway society, compared to the days when people had items repaired or kept them for as long as possible