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Used Computer Recycling

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Where To Find Recycling Sites For U
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  • 3.2 million tons of used computers are now in our landfills.
  • 63 million PCs were junked in 2003
  • Computer monitors can contain 2-9 pounds of lead.
  • In 2001, only 11% of used computers were sent to computer recycling sites

Recycling Used Computers - Does It Matter ?

Trashing used computers and other electronic equipment (cell phones, calculators, scanners, printers) adds tons of toxic compounds to the nation's landfills, compromising air and land quality.

According to the EPA, ewaste from old computer equi[pment is the fastest growing source of refuse in the US. They also predicts that more than 250 million used computers will become obsolete by the year 2005, which would add an estimated 8.5 million tons of waste to the nation's landfills.

Good used computers and other electronics are hauled to the dump daily while thousands of people with disabilities, schools and nonprofit organizations are either struggling along using obsolete equipment or doing without computers entirely.

It doesn't make sense to waste valuable resources when so many people and organizations are in need. Recycling used computers prevents electronics from reaching landfills, creating less ewaste, providing usable items to organizations that need them, and recapturing valuable resources.

What Makes Used Computers So Hazardous?

Typical computer monitors contain several pounds of lead. Circuit boards contain beryllium, flame retardants, gold, silver, and platinum in the wiring boards and connectors. Batteries in laptops contain cadmium and lithium, and the fluorescent lamps contain traces of mercury.

These elements contaminate the air and water, and expose people to carcinogens when crushed, shredded, and sent to landfills.  

Computer Recycling Sites

F or more information, the following sites will enable you to find a recyling center near you.

  • The EPA has a ton of information about programs, recycling sites, and cooperative groups.  www.epa.gov/epaoswer/osw/conserve/plugin/index.htm
  • ElectronicsRecycling.org has a wealth of information about recycling programs, locations, organizations, and the impact of used computer ewaste . www.electronicsrecycling.net/
  • Earth911 offers a breadth of information about recycling used computers and other products.   www.earth911.org/master.asp?s=lib&a=electronics/elec_index.asp
  • The National Recycling Coalition provides a ton of information about recycling, and can provide organization names in about ˝ of the US states. www.nrc-recycle.org/
  • Many states have laws that prohibit the dumping of items such used computers, monitors, and printers. If you're in California, try The Computer Recycling Center at www.crc.org/.
  • Techsoup provides a wealth of information and resources for recycling used computers. They also have a list of organizations that do refurbishing. Refurbishers play an important role by installing legal copies of software, wiping hard drives, and disposing of non-usable parts. www.techsoup.org/products/recycle/index.cfm?cg=nav&sg=recycling
  • The Electronic Industries Alliance offers a consumer education service that lists dozens of recycling programs in each state. www.eiae.org/

Charitable Donations

A number of charitable groups provide for used computer recycling, refurbishing old computer equipment for resale or to use in special programs.

  • Used computers are used by Goodwill Industries help disabled and disadvantaged people by providing job training, job placement, and post-employment support. They collect donated household goods to sell in their 1,900 retail stores, located throughout the United States, Canada and 23 other countries. www.goodwill.org/
  • The Salvation Army is one of the few organizations that will arrange to pick up your old computer at no charge. Management consultant Peter Drucker said this of the Salvation Army:  "No one even comes close to it in respect to clarity of mission, ability to innovate, measurable results, dedication and putting money to maximum use." (Forbes, August 11, 1997). www.salvationarmyusa.org/
  • The National Cristina Foundation (NCF) provides technology and solutions to people with disabilities, students at risk, and economically disadvantaged persons. The NCF public message is "Machines you can write off. People you can't."    www.cristina.org/
  • Shared Technology has a huge database that allows you to search for individuals with disabilities, schools, and non-profit organizations in every state, Canada, and the UK. sharetechnology.org/
  • Computers for Schools is a non-profit association in 25 states, providing low-cost technology to classroom grades K-12. Donated used computers are repaired by students in vocational computer repair classes in correctional facilities, community colleges, vocational centers, and high schools. www.pcsforschools.org/

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