The Impact of Donating Your Computer

Published On March 6, 2013 | Green Tech

The microcomputer has been around since the 70s. Andrew Grove of Intel said its power has doubled every 18 months – meaning the computer has changed more than 25 times since its invention. Every change in power, speed, capability, and even aesthetics has caused many to buy the latest device. Whether we’ve used all that power is questionable, but the fact is that we’ve generated tons of used equipment.

Certainly the desirability of something new and more capable eclipses the usability of the product it replaced. The dated equipment is discarded at an alarming rate.

To be fair, some of the equipment simply cannot be fixed. Or if it can be fixed, it costs more than its replacement. But society has found it easier to simply discard old equipment in order to replace it with newer technology. However, that means there are a lot of devices lying around that can be better used by others.

Simply tossing old or unwanted devices in the trash is the worst thing people can do. Landfill space is diminishing and discarded electronics occupies much of that space. Modern day electronics contain toxic metals like lead, phosphors, cadmium, beryllium, or brominated flame retardants, which seep into the environment and affect water sources and soil among other harmful consequences.

What may be more disturbing is that discarded equipment is lying in the basement or back room waiting to be used or discarded.

Recycling by the Numbers

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) calls these discards “technotrash.” According to the EPA this waste presents an increasing and complicated waste stream that poses difficult environmental management problems. The United States alone discards more than 30 million computers each year.

In 2009, the EPA estimated that 47.4 million units of computing equipment were ready for removal. Approximately 29.4 million units were discarded while 18 million units were recycled. That’s a 38 percent recycling ratio by weight. While that compares favorably to the 8 percent recycle ration for mobile devices, the fact remains that it’s not enough.

According to Dataquest, less than five percent of all personal computers are donated to schools, charities or nonprofit organizations.

Five percent is appalling when you think about how many schools have insufficient computer equipment to train and educate students. The computer is now an integral part of education, not only as a means of instruction but also in recognition that graduates will be faced with its use in every facet of adult life. There are charter and religious schools whose budgets simply are insufficient to acquire computing equipment.

How to Donate

The lack of recycling isn’t due to insufficient incentives. The Taxpayer Relief Act of 1997 offers enhanced charitable deductions for the donation of equipment to schools. The available tax incentives for private companies to provide computer equipment or software to K-12 classrooms would seem to provide the necessary motivation.

A great way to donate your equipment is through the Dell Reconnect program. Dell partners with Goodwill to provide free drop-off locations. Any brand of equipment in any condition can be dropped off at more than 2,400 Goodwill locations.
Websites like ecyclingcentral.com maintains a list of organizations nationwide that accept electronic donations.
There are plenty of ways people can donate their electronic equipment and there are also numerous causes that will greatly benefit. Donating an item is a win for everyone.

— By Editor

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