Where can one recycle computer equipment that is out of date

Where can one recycle computer equipment that is out of date or broken and not worth upgrading or fixing?

—Sunny Mullis, Sturgis, SD

According to the Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition, 315 million computers are expected to become obsolete by the end of 2004. Given the lightening speed of computer technology, some environmental groups estimate the average lifespan of a computer is only three years. A discarded computer reeks of environmental hazards. Not only will plastic components sit in landfills for hundreds of years, toxic materials are used to create computers, including lead used in monitors.

Instead of throwing your old computer away, consider donating it to one of many re-use programs or recycling programs throughout the country. The California-based Computer Recycling Center (CRC) began collecting used computers in 1991, and they claim to have diverted six million pounds of computer waste from landfills in 2002 alone. If you”re computer is still functional, CRC”s Computers & Education program takes computer donations and provides refurbished computers to public schools, and community non-profits. CRC is a local program, so if you can”t drop off your old machine, you”ll have to pay for shipping. Look for recycling programs in your community. Brokers like American Computer Exchange in Georgia are national programs that will take your hardware for trade on a newer model.

It is becoming more common for computer manufacturers to have their own recycling programs. Hewlett-Packard”s (HP) Planet Partners recycling service will pickup, transport, and recycle any brand of computer equipment or HP printing supplies. As an incentive to recycle, HP will give you $50 towards the purchase of a new product when you return old computer products to the company. HP”s recycling facilities processes more than three million pounds of used equipment each month.

Ink cartridges and disk use both generate significant waste. HP”s Planet Partners LaserJet Supplies Program has helped recycle more than 39 million HP LaserJet cartridges worldwide since 1992, which equates to approximately 50,000 tons of material diverted from landfill. GreenDisk, a Washington State-based company that recycles used disks, estimates that more than 10 billion old disks and CDs will need a resting place over the next five years. GreenDisk’s Personal Electronics Program helps individuals, businesses, and government agencies recycle small amounts of electronic waste, including CDs, diskettes, videos, inkjet and toner cartridges, and cell phones. You”ll receive a “Certificate of Destruction” that guarantees your intellectual property has been destroyed, and all physical materials have been disposed of in an environmentally responsible manner.

CONTACT: CONTACT: Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition, (408) 287-6707, www.svtc.org; Computer Recycling Center, (707) 570-1600, www.crc.org; American Computer Exchange, (404) 250-0050,www.amcoex.com; Hewlett-Packard, 800-752-0900,www.hp.com/hpinfo/globalcitizenship/environment/recycle; GreenDisk Services, (800) 305-3475, www.greendisk.com.