The big computer makers are not the only ones who offer free and responsible end-of-life recycling of their PCs that have finally reached the end of their usefulness. TechSoup's Refurbished Computer Initiative (RCI) does as well. Just like Dell and HP, we want to make sure that our RCI computers are treated in an environmentally responsible way at no extra cost to nonprofits and libraries.
Even though our RCI equipment is built to last, these computers will eventually outlive their usefulness. That's why we offer a free RCI end-of-life takeback program, which is made possible by our great refurbisher partners, InterConnection and PCRR.
How Does TakeBack Work?
When your RCI equipment is no longer useful to you, just have a look at the sticker on the machine and it will tell you where you can request a takeback.
If your computer has this sticker:
- Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with the asset number of the RCI equipment.
- InterConnection will verify that it's an RCI computer and then send you a prepaid mailing label. Put the equipment in any box that will fit, pack it with newspaper or other packing materials, seal it, and mail it in. That's it.
- If your equipment has a hard drive, InterConnection will clean it of all your data (even if you've already done that yourself) and responsibly recycle it to reclaim the metals, plastic, and glass that it's made from.
If your computer has this sticker:
Follow the process PCRR describes on their recycling page.
InterConnection and PCRR are certified by the R2 (Responsible Recycling Practices) Program. The U.S. EPA encourages everyone to use certified programs like this when recycling electronics.
R2 is an independent third-party certification program that ensures responsible recycling of used electronics. It requires that best practices are in place so that used electronics are processed according to environmental standards. This helps minimize the impact to human health and the environment, ensure safe management of materials by downstream handlers, and require destruction of all data on used electronics.
Why Electronics Recycling Matters
There are many reasons why electronics recycling is important to the environment. Here are a few:
- Electronic devices are complex machines that contain roughly half the elements in the periodic table. Some of these substances are toxic. They include lead, mercury, cadmium, chromium, bromine, and PVC plastics. When simply thrown away, IT devices with these toxic substances degrade in the environment, and toxins can find their way into our water and air — and can eventually make us sick.
- Electronic waste is the fastest-growing part of the waste stream.
- Recycling reclaims valuable materials that would otherwise be wasted. Many of the metals, plastics, and glass in PCs can be recovered from discarded electronics using modern recycling techniques. Some recoverable materials like rare earths are regarded as strategic materials.
- Electronics recycling is an area of green jobs growth.
- Responsible e-cycling prevents foreign dumping, domestic landfilling, and improper incineration of electronics discards.
TechSoup's environmental position is to encourage extending the life of IT equipment as long as possible through refurbishment, and then when devices have eventually outlived their usefulness to have them responsibly recycled.
Even if you don't have RCI equipment, we hope that you'll recycle your IT equipment responsibly. You can find listings of R2 and e-Stewards recyclers online.
Image: Green recycling, Shutterstock