Frequent Questions

Why Reuse Computers?

A 2004 report published by CompuMentor, a San Francisco nonprofit group that counsels schools and nonprofits on how to use technology, concludes that adding a few years of life to computers by refurbishing and reusing them is five to 20 times more energy efficient than recycling and could help meet demand for 28 million computers by nonprofits, schools and low-income families.

What are the Biggest Hindrances to Furthering Responsible Reuse?

Tax Breaks: Some companies have already written down the value of their computers, so there is reduced incentive for them to donate their equipment, because there is no write off to be gained.

Cost: Transporting and refurbishing outgrown systems can be expensive. 

Awareness: many companies and individuals do not think of reuse as an option for their outgrown technology or simply do not know how to go about ensuring the reuse of this equipment. 

Data Security Concerns: both companies and individuals are wary about donating computers because they are unaware of comprehensive data wiping methods and fear information theft.

What Is EPA Doing to Further Reuse?

EPA convened stakeholders interested in reuse including non-profits like CompuMentor, National Cristina, and Goodwill as well as companies that have equipment to donate like Intel and GE, reuse promoter eBay, and non-profit and for profit refurbishers to identify the key hindrances to reuse and work jointly on solutions. The stakeholder groups created guidance on data security for consumers and corporations titled "Do the PC Thing", and also developed a reuse video as a promotional and educational tool.  Both can be found at http://www.epa.gov/plugin.   

Are There Examples of Companies that Are Supporting Reuse Now?

Dell runs an after-school program called TechKnow that teaches low-income students to take computers apart, then reassemble them to take home. Dell also works with the National Cristina Foundation to donate computers to individuals with special needs.  Finally, Dell and Goodwill developed the Reconnect partnership in parts of California, Texas and Michigan, where individuals can drop off used IT equipment for Goodwill to refurbish and resell.

Microsoft Corp. created the Microsoft Authorized Refurbisher program, through which it donates operating systems for computers refurbished by nonprofit organizations.

Intel Corp. gives students equipment to recycle, refurbish or reuse through the StRUT Program - Students Recycling Used Technology.  Usable items are then donated to schools.

Cisco Systems Inc. donates used products to nonprofits; when those organizations have finished using the products, Cisco reclaims and recycles them.

NEC Display supports Computers for Schools, which also refurbishes IT equipment to place into classrooms across the country.

*Source: By VAUHINI VARA, Staff Reporter of THE WALL STREET JOURNAL, September 23, 2004

Links
TechSoup article Computer Recycling and Reuse FAQ: What Should You Do With Your Old Computer?  Exit EPA
Microsoft Authorized Refurbisher  Exit EPA
National Cristina Foundation  Exit EPA
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