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Ways to dispose of old computers

Question : Is there a proper way to dispose of an old computer or to recycle some of its materials?

Answer : The average computer system contains a variety of recyclable material, including glass, metal and plastic, and some of it can be reused. But computers and other electronic equipment can also contain toxic chemicals like lead, mercury and cadmium that can damage the environment if dumped in a landfill.

Reusing, recycling and returning old computers are three options that are more environmentally friendly than putting a PC out with the trash. If the machine still works but is too slow or outdated for your needs, you might consider donating it to a charitable organization for reuse. The National Cristina Foundation, for example, finds new homes for old computer equipment throughout its nationwide network of schools, public agencies and nonprofit organizations. You can learn how to donate at www.cristina.org.

Another nonprofit organization, Share the Technology (sharetechnology.org), has a database of listings for people wishing to donate used equipment, as well as a page of Web links devoted to recycling resources. Be sure to erase any personal information from the old machine before you donate it.

If your old computer is dead or dying, returning it to the manufacturer or a qualified company to salvage the recyclable materials and dispose of the rest is another option. Many computer companies have their own environmental policies and recycling services posted on their websites.

Some of these companies include Dell Computer (www.dell.com/recycling), Apple Computer (www.apple.com/environment/recycling) and Hewlett-Packard (www.hp.com/environment). The National Recycling Coalition lists recycling programs by state at www.nrc-recycle.org/resources/electronics/policy.htm, although there are a few dead links on the page.


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