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Upgrades Hardware

Proper Disposal Of Old PCs? 409

IMNTPC writes "Over the years, I've advanced from a 386DX-33 to a Celeron 1.3 Ghz system. I've slowly been accumulating enough old parts that now I think it's time to start disposing of anything that predates a Pentium 166. Does anyone know of a good place that will properly dispose/recycle of these old parts and PCs for little or no money? So far I've found, but anyone know of any others, either online or physical dropoff points in major metropolitan areas?"
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Proper Disposal Of Old PCs?

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  • by danamania ( 540950 ) on Thursday December 25, 2003 @06:32AM (#7807411)
    When I lived in Sydney, one of the nearby dumps had an area where old computing equipment could be left. It -claimed- to recycle these properly, but I can't vouch for the truth behind that.

    There seem to be many places that will take ancient working machinery too, and use it as donation equipment - for some people, a simple 386 is heaven. In 2001 I helped shuffle some of this stuff around, and for students who had absolutely no access to a computer for doing university work at home, a 386 that could edit text was a godsend. No, it's no use for software development or comp sci courses, but for those students who do only need to type up essays and the like, a simple machine with floppy is well appreciated and more than enough. Not every college course is comp.sci or IT.

    Personally, I just get a new one and push the old ones to the side. They seem to become part of the furniture [] and I don't notice they're there any more :)
  • by gr8fulnded ( 254977 ) on Thursday December 25, 2003 @06:33AM (#7807416)
    PC Disposal [] Dell, HP, and several other big players all offer various PC disposal programs also.
  • Welll..... (Score:5, Informative)

    by UnCleverNickName ( 730102 ) <> on Thursday December 25, 2003 @06:34AM (#7807420) Homepage Journal
    There's always Goodwill []. They'll take it and put it up for sale for ya. I buy a lot of old Macs from there. Their pricing is a bit odd with regards to computers, the bigger the box the bigger the price, that's the way they do it here. So while I got a 600Mhz desktop for 90$ they wanted almost twice that for a huge ppro machine hehe. Oh, and don't forget your local Churches and boy & girl scout organizations - they have computer/PC merit badges and a used PC is a great way to get their feet wet!
  • by Seraphim_72 ( 622457 ) on Thursday December 25, 2003 @06:38AM (#7807433)

    Here in sunny Minneapolis ther are several places that will take them - my fav charges 10 cents a pound, and then they part them out and have a salvation army type store next door for the parts. I regularly dumb off my old carp, and then go shopping afterward. Managed to get some great deals on stuff and the monitor prices cant be beat -(17" for $20, 19 for $50) all good stuff too

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 25, 2003 @06:48AM (#7807454)
    Here in Switzerland we have an advanced recycling fee since a few years. You can bring any electronic device to anyone who sells electronic devices. They have to take it back for free, even if the stuff you bring back is older then the new recycling system. Before people were trying to evade costly recycling fees by dumping things into the wood or the like. From a consumer point of few I like this very much because it sometimes was quite difficult to find the correct place to dispose off something.

    But if the device is still working or easily repaired, reuse it rather than recycle it.

    The fees (German) []

    An english overview over the system []
  • recycle tax (Score:5, Informative)

    by Potor ( 658520 ) <farker1&gmail,com> on Thursday December 25, 2003 @07:02AM (#7807481) Journal
    if you live in belgium, then you can give back the parts to electronics dealers, or dispose of them ecologically soundly at a community dump. we pay a small recycling tax on all electronics over here, and that is used for disposal. ps, this post comes from a p166. merry xmas, potor
  • by weave ( 48069 ) on Thursday December 25, 2003 @07:04AM (#7807486) Journal
    Check with your state recycling program. For example, Delaware has a free electronics recycling drop off program. []

    If your state doesn't have one, push your legislators to start one too. Point at Delaware as an example! It beats it ending up in a common landfill without proper handling.

  • by RTPMatt ( 468649 ) on Thursday December 25, 2003 @07:23AM (#7807528) Homepage
    if your in the San Jose, CA area, RAFT [] takes donations of all types, and cleans/fixes them and sells them them back to teachers. They have a department spcifically for computers & computer related stuff. if you want to donate, or are a teacher looking for cheap classroom computers, i stongly reccomend them.

  • Re:Two options (Score:5, Informative)

    by davmoo ( 63521 ) on Thursday December 25, 2003 @07:43AM (#7807549)
    Sorry, but this is an urban legend and could get you in to trouble with the IRS.

    The value of your old 386, when you donate it, is NOT the $3000 you originally paid for it. The value of your old 386, for tax donation purposes, is what a reasonable person would pay for it on the open otherwords, maybe $20.

    This applies to anything you donate that is used, not just computers. If that old junk heap of a vehicle in your front yard would only get $300 if sold, then that is its value for tax donation purposes. Giving it to the Goodwill does not allow you to write off the $17,000 purchase price when it was new. And the fact that organizations give you a blank receipt and allow you to write in your own value does not change tax law.

    Will you get caught and busted for overstating the value? Probably not, unless you do it all the time. But still you should be aware of what you are doing when you put it on that tax form.

    Usually here I would put the usual IANAL, but this case is different. Besides being a computer programmer, this time of year I also am a paid tax preparer with bookoo training on the subject, and my mommy works for the IRS.
  • by hazem ( 472289 ) on Thursday December 25, 2003 @07:55AM (#7807567) Journal
    In Portland, OR, there is Freegeek: [].

    They take all kinds of computer equipment. They refurbish what they can and recycle the rest with "responsible vendors" - meaning places that don't just ship it off to China.

    Drop-offs are free, except for monitors, which cost $10 because of the difficulty in handling all the metals and toxic materials in monitors.

    People can also volunteer there in their different programs and get "free" computers for their work.
  • Help the Third World (Score:2, Informative)

    by Hugh Mayfield ( 588499 ) <hlm&horfield,cjb,net> on Thursday December 25, 2003 @07:56AM (#7807569)
    Depending on where you are, Computer Aid International [] may be able to help. If you're in the Bristol/Avon or Reading areas of the UK, a great little charity called Computers for African Schools [] might be interested if the machine is at least a P75, 32MB RAM, 1GB HDD. These guys do some excellent work, refurbishing these machines and shipping them out to Zimbabwe, Malawi and Zambia. I work with them on occasion, not so much because I want to help the third world (though of course that's important) but mainly because I hate to see good machines go to waste.
  • Dell Recycling (Score:2, Informative)

    by InnovativeCX ( 538638 ) on Thursday December 25, 2003 @08:19AM (#7807601)
    Yesterday afternoon I received a Dell ad in the mail. On the back cover, they advertise a new PC recylcing service. For $7.50, you can recycle up to 50 lbs of computer equipment, up to three items from any manufacturer. Additionally, they give you a handy 10% off coupon for use toward a new Dell purchase.

    Furthermore, they have also launched a new Dell Donations program to benefit the National Cristina Foundation []. If you have hardware (ad says 'above Pentium I'--ambiguous as to whether or not your P-166 would be accepted), they'll take it and fix it up for disabled/disadvantaged children and adults.

    Instead of forcing you to drive or UPS it to a distribution center or a warehouse, they send an Airborne Express guy out to your house or business to pick it up. I have to admit, I'm rather impressed by this program.

    More information available here [].
  • Re:Two options (Score:3, Informative)

    by afidel ( 530433 ) on Thursday December 25, 2003 @08:36AM (#7807632)
    My CPA told me you are probably safe with the greater of the 'reasonable sale price' or purchase price minus standard depreciation table methods. You just have to be able to justify it to an auditor should it come to that. Obviously overvalued deductions can get you flagged for an audit and should you be overstating your case the fines, penalties, and headaches will make it SO not worth it.
  • by tomatobasil ( 576515 ) on Thursday December 25, 2003 @08:37AM (#7807633)
    A '384/486 era motherboard contains between $1 and $2 worth of recyclable metals. You need about 5-6000 pounds of boards before processing them is economically worthwhile. Mainframe boards are worth anywhere up to $4 per pound. Junk like the power supply boards and boards inside CRTs are worth roughly 12 cents per pound. All numbers are in $us, 12/2003. Real numbers from someone in the biz of buying dead ones by the semi-truck load. It all gets processed in the US. Yes I'm buying, but only if you have a few thousand pounds of scrap minimum.
  • Dell Recycling (Score:2, Informative)

    by mmurphy000 ( 556983 ) on Thursday December 25, 2003 @08:38AM (#7807634)
    Dell runs a recycling program, and they take other manufacturers' equipment as well. They take PCs, printers, monitors, etc. There is a per-item charge, but it's fairly low (PCs are normally $15, but it looks like it's "on sale" for $7.50). That covers the shipping - you just box the item up, and on the day they specify, leave it outside, and Airborne will come by and take it away.

    Check it out at the Dell [] site.

    I've used this program to recycle a dead 17" monitor, and it worked like a charm.

  • by Stephen Samuel ( 106962 ) <> on Thursday December 25, 2003 @08:51AM (#7807670) Homepage Journal
    Licensing problems, lack of support, and a myriad of other problems plague these old computers.

    Licensing problems are only an issue if you insist on running Wintendos. A P100 makes a fine SOHO firewall.. Throw BSD, smoothwall, etc. on it with a spare ethernet card or two and you're flying for DSL/Cable.

    They're also fine for all sorts of classroom uses that don't demand heavy computations. This would include things like doing word processing with AbiWord (Not sure about Open Office, though -- haven't tried it)

  • Not true (Score:2, Informative)

    by eamber ( 121675 ) on Thursday December 25, 2003 @10:03AM (#7807798) Homepage Journal
    I work for a school district in rural Lancaster, PA - and I'll tell you: We have an entire old schoolhouse building FILLED with skids stacked with old P166's - probably at least 1000 of them ... and monitors to go with them. We can't even give them away. No one will take them, and believe me - we've looked.
  • Freecycle (Score:3, Informative)

    by PacoTaco ( 577292 ) on Thursday December 25, 2003 @10:23AM (#7807835)
    Maybe try this []. Also good for non-computer stuff.
  • by bloosh ( 649755 ) on Thursday December 25, 2003 @10:50AM (#7807926)
    As the IT person at a local school, I accept any Pentium based machine with PCI slots. Add one 100Mb NIC, disable the hard drive, make a boot floppy and I've got myself a perfectly good X terminal to connect to my LTSP ( server. The slowest machine I have like this is an old AST Pentium 75. Runs Mozilla, OpenOffice and most everything else perfectly. Even runs our Windows based reading software via Wine. I am fortunate to work at a school where most of the administration supports me and trusts my judgement. They also seem to like the money I save by not using Microsoft products on every computer.
  • by mr_burns ( 13129 ) on Thursday December 25, 2003 @11:02AM (#7807971)
    If you live anywhere urban the sidewalk is amazing.

    I was walking down the street with my gf at the time in Oakland and there were these old 486's and p60's laying around. I busted out the cybertool and started harvesting ethernet cards. People came by with tools who had seen them 15 minutes or so earlier than I did and I started helping them build machines and pick the best parts.

    However, you can't just abandon the machines or leave them for the dept of sanitation. The amount of lead and other nasties in computers is environmentally hostile. One thing to do is advertise that you're doing this. I see this on (or any other location based classifieds) a lot. Postings like: "I'm gonna leave this stuff on the corner of this and that at 5pm" are common and get the word out to people who need parts and can't afford them.

    After the compu-hyenas have picked the carrion clean you should take responsibility for what's left and decide, based on what's there if you want to recycle or find a place to dump that will do so ethically.
  • by danimal ( 1712 ) on Thursday December 25, 2003 @11:03AM (#7807975) Homepage
    there is the Alameda County Computer Resource Center []. They even have a list [] of fees that they charge to make sure they can properly dispose of the items. They take many types of electronics, "We want everything you can plug in that you don't put food inside of." They also turn around and provide computers and other things that work or are repaired to schools, charities, non-profits, and disabled folks. So it's a win-win situation, you get rid of your computer parts and they help someone else.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 25, 2003 @11:04AM (#7807979)
    How about not. 95% of the stuff that gets donated to where I work, I look at for 5 seconds, then carry to the dumpster. What the hell am I supposed to do with old 14" VGA monitors that only do 640x480, 486 computers(!), 386 computers (!!!!), and MONOCHROME-FUCKING-MONITORS???? That is just the tip of the useless computer equipment iceberg. I mean come on, none of our computers are slower than a Pentium III and all have super-VGA 15" monitors minimum. And no, we don't need a "backup" dot matrix printer either.

    So get your nice fuzzy feeling unloading shit to your local school. We all know you just did it for a tax deduction anyway, which is why most of the donations come at a certain time of year.
  • by mysticgoat ( 582871 ) on Thursday December 25, 2003 @11:22AM (#7808038) Homepage Journal

    Free Geek charges $10 / monitor to cover the cost of shipping them to a recycler that can break them apart safely. People (and businesses) bring in their old systems and leave with a receipt that's of use at tax time. It is up to the donator to estimate the value of his donation.

    Free Geek runs three programs that are kind of interesting:

    • A, for Adoption program: do 24 hours of volunteer time and you earn a Freak Box (lot's of high schoolers in this program)

      Freak Boxen are currently spec'ed as: 200 - 233 Mhz CPU, 96 Mb ram, 3 - 4 Gb HD, NIC, sound card, modem included, Debian as the OS. Volunteers get a four hour orientation to common home computering under Linux, a working system, and follow-up support.

    • B, for Build program: assemble five computers from salvaged parts for Free Geek's programs, then you can assemble a sixth one for yourself
    • C, for Collaborative Technologies programs: Debian systems, support, and training are provided to area non-profits like charities and churches to move them away from the costs of proprietary systems.

    Here's the link again, in case you missed it in the parent: Free Geek []

    The Build program is a kick. Building systems from salvaged parts gives is giving me a whole different perspective.

  • by VonGuard ( 39260 ) on Thursday December 25, 2003 @12:54PM (#7808363) Homepage Journal
    Probably not near the poster of the topic, but folks in the SF Bay Area can check out the Alameda County Computer Resource Center []. They were /. []'d a couple years back. They won't rebuild you 386, but they will strip it down and recycle everything inside without a single scrap going outside of the US for those purposes.
  • Re:Dell Recycling (Score:2, Informative)

    by SoupaFly ( 558227 ) on Thursday December 25, 2003 @01:35PM (#7808518)
    I used this for some old 386 systems I had laying around collecting dust and it worked like a charm! I did some looking around and didn't find many options for computer recycling. The Dell program was really simple though. Simply online order form. Then you just put the stuff outside your front door on the day specified. Couldn't be easier. HP has a recycling program too (looks a little bit more expensive than Dell).

    Anywhoo, I was a little upset about having to pay someone to recycling my old electronics. I guess if you consider the fee as a shipping cost though, it's not so bad. Better than dumping more toxic crap in a hole in the ground too.
  • Dell (Score:2, Informative)

    by Chalex ( 71702 ) on Thursday December 25, 2003 @02:30PM (#7808739) Homepage
    Dell Recycling will pick up your old computer for like $10 AND give you a coupon for Dell's website.
    Dell Recycling []
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 25, 2003 @03:16PM (#7808931)
    In Norway, any electronics store is required to accept old TVs, computers etc and dispose of them properly
  • by number11 ( 129686 ) on Thursday December 25, 2003 @03:37PM (#7809014)
    Here in sunny Minneapolis ther are several places that will take them - my fav charges 10 cents a pound

    In sunny Minneapolis (Hennepin County), residential recycling pickups take computer gear for free. Monitors, computers, printers, cartons of dead keyboards and power supplies, everything. And if the weather's dry and you set the stuff out a week before recycle day, it will often vanish before the appointed time.
  • Re:EBAY!!! (Score:4, Informative)

    by ChrisKnight ( 16039 ) <> on Thursday December 25, 2003 @05:26PM (#7809471) Homepage
    I second the eBay recommendation, but I would hardly call the people looking for older parts suckers. Some people still need older parts. I sell of my obsolete hardware on eBay, and I've been able to purchase hard to find parts there myself. I have a couple of VA Linux rackmount servers, and eBay was the only place I could find reasonably priced spare parts.

    I've sold scsi cards on eBay for a dollar, and broke even on the shipping; and I am happy because I know the part is going to use and not into a land fill.

  • by FCKGW ( 664530 ) <cclpez802&sneakemail,com> on Thursday December 25, 2003 @08:56PM (#7810225)
    Does your $30 router have near-infinitely adjustable firewall rules? A real DMZ (real = separate subnet)? The ability to act as a VPN endpoint? Cool traffic graphs and logging? Even in the age of $30 router/switch combos, an old PC is still a great way to get features that come mostly on very expensive corporate routers and firewalls.

    Old PCs also make awesome little servers. Even a family of neophytes with multiple computers could use a shared file space, and us geeks can set up our own file/web/FTP/DNS/DHCP/time/backup/whatever servers. Personally, I have a P166 as a router, a P133 web server, and a P133 backup server. My file server is a Tbird900 only because I use it as a desktop sometimes.
  • Re:Destruction Fest (Score:3, Informative)

    by Tim Doran ( 910 ) <timmydoran@ro g e r s .com> on Thursday December 25, 2003 @11:44PM (#7810722)
    Good lord - you know that monitor glass is *loaded* with lead, right? It's enough of an environmental impact when intact, but shatter it into a thousand pieces and dump it in a lanfill?!?

    Please, please, please dispose of your monitors properly, if nothing else.
  • (Score:2, Informative)

    by comeonpilgrim ( 139190 ) on Friday December 26, 2003 @12:58PM (#7812939)
    I used [] to find local places that would take my old (non-working) parts for free. They even took old laserdisc players and walkmans.

It's fabulous! We haven't seen anything like it in the last half an hour! -- Macy's