Disposal with benefits
You might find a program that pays you to recycle. Dell
, for one, will recycle your old PC for free when you buy a new system from Dell. The company provides prepaid air bills for shipping the old equipment and allows you to recycle two large items, such as a PC and a monitor, plus smaller parts, such as a keyboard and speakers. Dell also offers the option of giving your old equipment to the nonprofit National Cristina Foundation
, which provides technology and training to children and adults in need. This option may also make you eligible for a tax deduction. As a bonus, Dell will discount 10 percent from a future purchase.
Conscientious e-waste recycling programs, such as the one at this HP center, shred computers and other electronics into scrap metals and plastics, then separate the materials for reuse.
Regardless of where you purchased your PC, CNET's own Trade-in Center
lets you turn it into cash to use toward the purchase of new gear. Get an instant online quote for the value of your old desktop, display, notebook, PDA, printer, digital camera, server, or projector, and CNET will contribute 10 percent of each trade-in's value to the school of your choice.
A number of manufacturers' recycling programs may ask for a fee to take old electronics off your hands. For instance, Hewlett-Packard's hardware recycling program
charges you $13 to $34 per hardware item for pickup from your home or business: recycling a typical desktop PC and CRT monitor will cost around $46. For $29.99, IBM's PC Recycling Service
will take all the computers, displays, printers, and other components that you can fit into a 26-inch-square box. The Apple Recycles program
asks a $30 fee for your 26-inch-square box of components up to 60 pounds. You'll receive a prepaid UPS mailing slip; just pack up the parts and take them to the nearest UPS drop-off site.
Sadly, electronics recycling can have an ugly downside
. The lack of national laws makes it difficult to discover what a company is really doing with used goods. Many programs ship waste overseas, where workers get no protection from lead, mercury, and other poison in the goods they dismantle. Luckily, that's usually not the case with manufacturer take-back programs that charge a fee. Check the Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition 2005 Report Card
to see how your computer maker's environmental reputation rates.