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[greenyes] E-Waste -- Recycle v. Refurbishment


Donating Old PCs
May Trump Efficiency
Of Recycling Them
Study Says Effort to Reuse
More Computers Faces
High Costs, Other Hurdles
September 23, 2004; Page B6
Donating aging personal computers to needy users is more efficient than
recycling them. But efforts to reuse PCs face some big hurdles, including
high costs and a lack of industry coordination.
Those are top conclusions of a study being published today by CompuMentor, a
San Francisco nonprofit group that is trying to drum up more interest in
reusing machines. Its report concludes that adding a few years of life to
computers by refurbishing and reusing them is five to 20 times more energy
efficient than recycling and could help meet demand for 28 million computers
by nonprofits, schools and low-income families.

CompuMentor, which counsels schools and nonprofits on how to use technology,
estimates that many computers can be operated effectively for as long as
seven years. Some companies replace computers every three or four years, and
with a little encouragement, backers of the reuse concept say, PC donations
could flow from businesses and consumers who don't know how to dispose of
aging systems.
"If an effective program is launched, this stuff will pour out of garages
and basements," said Jerry Powell, editor of E-Scrap News, of Portland, Ore.
Yet more than two million tons of used electronics are thrown away every
year in the U.S., according to the Environmental Protection Agency.
CompuMentor estimates that 13% of PCs are recycled for their materials and
only 2% are reused; most of the rest wind up in landfills or are stored
Cost is a major obstacle to reuse, notes Jim Lynch, a senior program manager
at CompuMentor who authored the report. In many cases, refurbishing old
systems is expensive. Even giving machines away isn't free; including
transportation and other costs, it can cost companies $127 per donated
computer, according to findings of the research firm Gartner Inc. cited by

Peter Anderson
4513 Vernon Blvd. Suite 15
Madison, WI 53705
(608) 231-1100 / Fax 233-0011

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