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Tips from Tonna for your PC
Recycling Computers
by Tonna Kutner

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Q:  My old computer died and I finally got a new PC (which I love).  What can I do with my old computer?  Is there some place where l can donate it for fixing or recycling or should I just toss it?

A:  Great question.  Most computer equipment contains hazardous materials such as lead, mercury, and cadmium, which are best kept out of our landfills.  Through recycling, many materials used in computer manufacture can be recovered and used again. We all benefit from the effort. 

The best resource I’ve found for recycling computers is the King County Computer Recovery Project.  They list more than 30 locations where computers can be recycled as well as the types of computers they will accept.  Some take only working computers.  Others will take almost anything.  

Edit 12/04: Ok this doesn't exist any more.  Don't give up.  Be sure to recycle - try these:

Re-pc is a good recycler in the Seattle area: http://www.repc.com
Here's another web site that might help.

Many of the companies listed collect computer equipment for refurbishing and redistribution to charitable organizations.  Others repair and sell used computers. 

Goodwill, Salvation Army, and St. Vincent de Paul will accept donations of working computers (Pentium or better).  Re-PC – located in Seattle and Tukwila – will accept both working and non-working computers.  They charge $10 to accept monitors.

The charge for accepting monitors is now standard for King County recyclers.  Monitors (Cathode Ray Tubes or CRTs) can contain 3 to 8 pounds of lead!   They need special treatment to be recycled.

Here are some astounding facts to encourage you to recycle:  Carnegie Mellon University estimates that a minimum of 150 million personal computers will be buried in U.S. landfills by 2005.  The US EPA has indicated that, since many batteries (such as car batteries) are now being removed from waste, electronic products represent the largest remaining contributor of heavy metals to the solid waste stream. 

It is estimated that in 1999 14 million computers were “retired.”  Approximately 80 percent of old computers are in storage – meaning that they are in closets or storerooms in homes and businesses.  The sooner computers get out of storage and into the recycling stream, the more likely it is that they can be used again for their original purpose.  But even the oldest can be recycled.  As much as 97 percent of old computers can be recycled.  Many contain parts that can be refurbished and reused.  All contain metals, plastics, glass, and other materials that require energy to procure and manufacture.  When we throw away old computers, we’re throwing away these resources as well as generating additional pollution.  So, don’t just toss it.  Make the effort to recycle.

If you have a computer question you would like answered in this space, send it to tonna@computer-lynx.com.

For past columns of Tips from Tonna, check out the web site: www.computer-lynx.com. Tonna Kutner, Computer LYNX, works with companies to list and develop their web sites.  Phone (206) 575-3979 or email tonna@computer-lynx.com. Visit Tonna’s website at www.computer-lynx.com.  

Printed in VerveApril  2001. Copyright Tonna Kutner

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