Royal Mail has donated 3,000 PCs and laptops to charity Computer Aid International to be used in Africa and Latin America.

The hardware has been donated as part of Royal Mail's ongoing refresh programme over the last eight months and forms part of its corporate social responsibility strategy.

The charity takes in donated PCs from UK businesses and individuals, professionally refurbishes them and provides them for reuse in education, health and agriculture in developing countries.

Royal Mail's donated PCs and laptops are now being used in a range of projects in schools, colleges and NGO's in countries including Malawi, Namibia, Ethiopia, and Chile, amongst others.

Computer Aid asset tracks each PC, laptop and monitor donated, enabling them to provide feedback to their donors on exactly which projects their PCs are sent to.Carol Olney, Royal Mail IT Director, said: "Computer Aid provides an environmentally responsible way for us to dispose of our redundant equipment while enabling us to help disadvantaged communities abroad who may otherwise have been unable to afford the equipment."

Before being shipped each PC and laptop donated by the Royal Mail and its outsourcer CSC is professionally refurbished and data wiped to UK and US security standards. The donations help meet Royal Mail's obligations under the WEEE electronic disposal directive, the Data Protection Act and the Environment Act.

Earlier this year, the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) called for the government to conduct a full review of the firms involved in the disposal of the UK's e-waste.

It is thought that the UK's e-waste amounts to one million tonnes a year, and this is growing at a rate of five percent annually. Under the WEEE regulations, working old electronic devices can be exported abroad. However, there is a profitable but illegal trade in also selling on broken devices for components and scrap metal. In fact, it is estimated that one in every eight containers of exported e-waste actually contains broken devices.