Reusing andDonating Electronics
Preventing waste in the first place is usually preferable to anywaste management option...including recycling. Donatingelectronics for reuse extends the lives of valuable productsand keeps them out of the waste management system for alonger time. Reuse, in addition to being an environmentally preferable alternative, also benefits society. By donating your used electronics, you allow schools, non-profit organizations,and lower-income families to use equipment that theyotherwise could not afford.As a household or a business, you may be able to takeadvantage of tax incentives for computer equipment donations.The 21st Century Classrooms Act for Private TechnologyInvestment encourages large companies to donate computer equipment to public and private schools. When donatingequipment to a non-profit organization, inquire aboutdocumentation that can be applied toward your incometax return.Before donating your computer or other electronics, makesure the equipment is reusable. Donation organizations havelimited resources and employees to diagnose and repair hardware. A functional, working system, especially withmonitor, wiring, and software licenses, is a lot moreuseful and requires less upgrading than a non-working,incomplete computer. Check to see what the donationorganization’s minimum computer requirements are.Donation organizations may not accept (or maycharge a fee for) older, less useful equipment.The most appropriate donation organization to handle acomputer can vary from area to area. In some cases, themost viable donation organization may be a charity, but inother areas, the appropriate donation organization may bethe local school district or materials exchange.
If donation for reuse or repair is not a viable option,households and businesses can send their used electronicsfor recycling. Recycling electronics avoids pollution and theneed to extract valuable and limited virgin resources. It alsoreduces the energy used in new product manufacturing.A growing number of municipalities are offering computer and electronics collections as part of household hazardouswaste collections or special events. In addition, public and private organizations have emerged that accept computersand other electronics for recycling. Depending on where youlive and the amount of equipment you have, the bestrecycling option may be a county recycling drop-off center,TV repair shop, charitable organization, electronics recyclingcompany, or even your local electronics retailer, which maycollect used products and send them to a recycler.Some electronics manufacturers are accepting householdelectronics for recycling. In some cases, these services are provided free-of-charge. Asset management and recovery programs have been available to major corporations andlarge purchasers of electronic equipment for quite sometime. Now, electronics manufacturers are beginning tooffer similar services for households and small businesses.
Where can I donate my computer?
The following are just a few examples of organizationsthat can provide additional information on donatingelectronics.
Many Goodwills accept computer donations. Donationsto Goodwill help individuals with disabilities and otherdisadvantages upgrade their job skills and enter theworkforce.
Students Recycling Used Technology (StRUT)
The StRUT program teaches students to evaluateand repair donated computer equipment, which isthen contributed to local schools. Founded in Oregon,StRUT has since expanded to other states (AZ, CA,MA, NM, OR, TX, and WA). Call (503) 251-3771 toask about a site near you.
Learning and Information Networking forCommunity via Technology (LINCT)
Using computers donated by businesses, LINCTprovides computer training, teaches individuals torefurbish computers, and allows them to earncomputers through community service.
Many materials exchanges accept electronics.The Southern Waste Information Exchange (SWIX)has developed a materials exchange specifically forelectronics at
Reuse Development Organization (ReDO)
ReDO is a non-profit organization that promotesreuse of discarded and surplus materials, includingelectronics. ReDo provides education, training, andtechnical assistance to help start up and operatereuse programs.