Makers will now recycle old PCs, other hardware for agencies

PC makers are taking steps to divert their outmoded products from the solid-waste stream.

Gateway Inc. recently launched an asset recovery program for large users, including government agencies. The company will remove and dispose of any manufacturer's notebook and desktop computers and servers according to Environmental Protection Agency guidelines, said Jay Lambke, Gateway's vice president of institutional markets.

In addition to Gateway, Dell Inc. and Hewlett-Packard Co. both offer recycling programs for their old equipment, too.

The Gateway program is available to any agency for a flat $30 per system with credit toward purchase of new equipment. The company also can scrub data from hard disks to meet Defense Department guidelines, Lambke said.

Break it down

At a plant in southern California, Gateway contractors tear down and break the computers into recyclable elements such as metal, plastics and glass.

Gateway has offered recycling before on the consumer side, but the company launched the program for institutional IT users in May.

'There's a large pent-up demand out there' to get rid of obsolete equipment, Lambke said. To schedule a pickup, users can call Gateway representatives.

The city of Topeka, Kan., recently recycled about 500 computers through Gateway, said Neil Wilson, a user system consultant for the city.

Resource Concepts Inc. of Dallas did the pickup for Gateway. Wilson said city officials appreciated how the contractor collected statistics about hard-drive size and processor speed in a spreadsheet.

Most of the computers were desktop models with CPUs ranging from 120-MHz Pentium to 450- and 500-MHz Pentium III chips.

Wilson said some higher-end office equipment went to the city's parks and recreation department for use in its after-school programs.

The city government was not under a mandate to participate in a recycling program, but it had been paying for transportation, inventory, storage and auctioning of old PCs before the Gateway program came along.

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