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  PC recycling, 2400-baud modem anyone? 
  May 11, 2001, 06:00am EDT 
By: Sander Sassen

Although the idea is nothing new and we've all more or less been practising the concept amongst family, friends and relatives, PC recycling seems to become more worthwhile every day. With the advent of GHz CPUs, 70 GB harddisks and 50-speed CDROMs, many of us upgrade on a regular basis, even if only for the bragging rights, resulting in a growing surplus of obsolete computer hardware. And quite frankly many of these upgrades are overkill for most of the everyday stuff we do, such as browsing the web or typing up a document.

In many cases however this obsolete computer equipment ends up gathering dust in attics and garages, or is thrown away with the garbage. On a larger scale, the industry's solution has been to ship much of the unwanted and environmentally dangerous parts to China, for recycling or just disposal, as the environmental laws in China aren't as stringent. However, with the volume of obsolete equipment in the U.S. and Europe rapidly growing, another solution has to be found.

IBM is actually one of the first companies to 'recycle' its equipment, either recycled in a environmentally responsible way or donated to charity, third world countries, schools and institutions, etc., if still in working order. Much to its credit, IBM is billing the plan as a 'no strings attached' service because it'll accept any brand of obsolete or defective equipment, and no purchase of any type is required. Most recycling programs operated by smaller computer retailers are conditional on so-called trade-in policies, in which unwanted equipment is recycled only if the consumer buys new equipment. IBM's program does not have these strings attached, a great initiative, both for the sake of the environment as well as the many that may be helped with your not-quite-cutting-edge gear.

Both Dell and Hewlett-Packard Co. have said that they, too, are working on a program for individual customers, to be in place in the next few months. And although environmentalists have praised IBM's program as a step in the right direction, one thing needs to be kept in mind: that for the sake of the environment computer manufacturers and government agencies charged with handling waste disposal need to pay more attention to the issue.

Sander Sassen.

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