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Old Hardware - Don’t trash it!

August 6, 2010
By Bill Schifferli

As more and more people become technologically savvy, they eventually acquire more and more computer equipment. That old 386, 486 and early Pentium may still be sitting in your basement or your garage.  You know you can’t throw it out, but what can you do with it? It’s too old for anyone to find a reasonable use for it, or perhaps one of the components is burned out and it’s just not worth it to fix. You can’t throw it out. PC’s, especially older ones, are filled with all sorts of unfriendly metals and components with  mercury being one of the more poisonous. Odds are there’s also quite a bit of metal components in the machine, and metals are some of things more easily recyclable. The question that remains is where and how?

The good news is that if you live in a major metropolitan area there are probably several organizations that will take that old stuff off your hands. Most of them for free (they sell it for scrap), and some will charge you for certain items (older tube TV’s). If a machine is still viable, check with your local school board to see if they accept donations. A lot of inner city schools would love to add more computers to their classrooms.

Here in Rochester, we have our own recycling giant. They’re called Regional Computer Recycling and Recovery (RCR&R for short). They have drops all over the area, and most local computer retailers will accept your junk on their behalf. Anything under 5 lbs is free, and for anything over there are reasonable fees. If security is your concern regarding you old hard drives, most are either destroyed or sanitized. They can guarantee your drive has been sanitized in writing for an additional fee as well, which should help you sleep better at night knowing that any residual personal data won’t fall into inappropriate hands.

I work in the financial services industry (in IT), and once or twice a year we offer our customers a unique experience. We team up with RCR&R and our local shredding company to provide recycling of our clients old hardware (and shredding of their old documents). An RCR&R truck and a shred truck (unrelated to RCR&R) will be parked outside and our clients will filter in throughout the afternoon dropping off old stuff to be recycled. We foot the bill for this, and it allows us to put our clients at ease by offering this unique service and making sure their old hardware doesn’t end up in the wrong hands or in a landfill.

If you want to learn more about the corporate and residential services that RCR&R offers for the Greater Rochester region, check out their website at eWaste.com.

If you want to check out other options for recycling in your area, check out your local municipal web pages for information. If you’re a Monroe County resident, you can find a list of possible alternatives here.

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