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"eCycling" Pilot Program in 5 States and D.C. 91

Mr. Slippery writes: "Several /. stories have discussed the problem of disposing of electonic gear laden with hazardous materials. The EPA, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Virginia, West Virginia, DC, and about a dozen corporate sponsors have launched a pilot program to collect and recycle computers and electronics. The objective is to collect data to "develop a long-term cost effective system to remove computers (including monitors & peripherals) and TVs from the municipal waste stream." (My car is now loaded up with five monitors, 3 old HP RISC worksations, several partial PCs, an old TV, and various parts and pieces for the Baltimore County drop-off tomorrow...if any area geeks are looking to scavange old gear this might be a prime opportunity.)"
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"eCycling" Pilot Program in 5 States and D.C.

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  • Toss out old unix boxen. I've been wanting a PArisc box for years. Don't suppose you'd be willing to ship?
  • I have a 386 with 2M memory and a 20M disk that no longer works and has a dead 12" (10" effective) monitor that is looking for a good home ...

    Sometimes they really do need to be thrown out -- let's recycle instead of landfilling!

  • Cool tech (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 27, 2002 @10:06AM (#3420735)
    It's a shame these programs don't put stuff aside so that poor geeks (like - the really poor ones with hand-me-down 386's and the like) can get some old hardware.

    Most of these places are just pure break down and destroy. Which makes sense economically, but still.. :)

    Perltop [] - GTK / Perk Desktop environment
    • Re:Cool tech (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      I live far below the poverty level here, and I'm running an k6-500 (saved my pennies, and ate LOTS of mac and cheese).

      ALL of my neighbors are poor (food bank poor) and none of the ones I know into computers would settle for a 486. (forget 386's even...those sit and rot at the salvation army, for the reason I just described).
    • Re:Cool tech (Score:3, Informative)

      by ipsuid ( 568665 )
      Actually, you just have to show up. We recently let the EPA use a section of our warehouse for this program (or one like it). Quite a few people were there to take stuff rather then bring it.

      Apparently, they had no problem with this. Too bad I was busy that day!!!
  • by Anonymous Coward
    If you are anywhere near FallsChurch, come to Broad St. There is a huge banner in the
    middle of the road that will guide you to the exact location.

    If you are in Alexandria, take Leesburg Pike and drive towards Baily's cross-roads, Leesburg
    turns to Broad St. Stay on that (please go 25mph, fallschurch is over populated, it is a
    residential area, and our cops are broke, hehehe)

    For those of you coming from the other side of Leesburg (tyson's corner) just stay on Leesburg
    and head towards Falls Church (aim at the Route 66 exit, if you have to.) and you will
    land in Broad St.
  • Not just computers (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    One of the problems with capitalism is the utter lack of cern with what happens to a product after it has been used. _Every_ product should have its disposial and / or recycling plan sorted out before it is even sold. Anything else is to cohourt disaster with the earth's resources and environment.
    • Agreed. But I can't wait to see what the gungho capitalism trolls will have to say about this. "Oh that would cost too much" or maybe "Are you trying to castrate free enterprise?".

      I recycle at home myself. I'm pretty good at sorting metal... I'd settle for mandatory plastic codes on all plastic items. I've tossed a few old computer cases (damaged, etc) and the plastic front covers are almost impossible to ID. And of course our local recycling only takes type 1 and 2, so I ended up landfilling it. Makes me feel kind of guilty. (No, I don't feel guilty about type 3+... that's my local gov's fault, I'm more than willing to presort it for the curb).
      • Blorp! Ignorant Capitalist Kunts are pushing the cost of disposal into the future - where it will cost more $$$$$ than it would now. Another fine example of basic human greed, ignorance and stupidity.
    • Actually, there is a perfectly good answer. It's called capitalism. Of course, it is a regulated kind of capitalism.

      You the regulator, add a recycling fee to be paid by the manufacturer that is added to the cost of the product. This fee is based on the estimated disposal/recycling cost of the product. The fee applies to circuit boards, etc. anything that qualifies as end-use form.

      Now the capitalist has incentive to reduce end-use waste disposal/recycling costs. Many items could be recycled more cheaply if the were designed to be recycled. Many monitors get a bunch of lead added to them (as balast), yet the lead is not easily recycled at the end. If the lead could be eaily recycled (ease of breakdown) the recyling fee would be smaller. Or, the manufacturer would try to redesign to reduce the dependence upon lead ballast.

      By being recycle friendly (reducing the recycling fee), the product would be comparitivly cheaper than the competition who is not recycling friendly.

      I'm not a big fan of government regulation. I am a fan of appropriate regulation (government or otherwise). If an industry shows itself to self-police well, government involvement can be light (and vice-versa)
    • The Register [] had an article about this recently. Due to falling metal prices the fees one of the companies that break up PCs had gone into administration. Apparently the fees they charge to take the computers away was no longer covering the cost of wiping the data and the money that resale of the materials was bringing in. It also had news that most data wiping software wasn't as secure as its writers made out to be.
  • The Redundant Technology Initiative [] have been doing this sort of thing in my hometown of Sheffield, UK for a number of years now [].

    RTI is an arts group based in Sheffield, England. It started in 1997 with a group of artists who wanted to get involved with information technology, but didn't have the resources to buy computers. So instead they went about getting their hands on trash computers, finding new ways to be creative with old technology, then exhibiting the results.

    Now RTI has accumulated hundreds of machines and has raised money to open a media lab, called Access Space [] where people can learn, create and communicate using trailing-edge technology. At last, after a series of frustrating delays, Access Space finally opened on April 6th 2000.

    We had a fairly groovy Wireless Internet Workshop too at Access Space last November [].

  • Throwing away an HP RISC? A pity. Give that stuff away, or trade something for it at TradeBoxen [].

    I'm not affiliated with the site, I just swapped some shit there recently.

    It's better that it goes in the office than the landfill.
    • If you are an individual with extra equipment it is VERY hard to get rid of stuff. You have to advertise the items and then wait for people to come. Or you can deal with the hassle of eBay where you'll get a nominal amount but have to go through the pain of packing it all up. Meanwhile, you've paid for the item in the first place, and storage since then. It's ten times easier and cheaper just to load this stuff up and bring it to the landfill than to try to save the stuff. Unless you can get at least $100 for it (which for 99% of the old computers you can't), it's just not worth the hassle.
      • You know, taking time to program defensively and put in meaningful comments has no benefit to me most of the time. Most of the time, some junior person will be stuck with the maintenance and I can always just blame him or her for any problems. Doing the extra work to do a good job is just not worth the hassle.

        Most of the time, I can get away with just throwing pop cans out of the window of my car, especially if I'm on a country road with nobody around. Carrying that crap around just isn't worth the hassle.

        Look, I know I cut corners and don't always do the right thing, but are you really arguing for filling landfills with stuff that may have value to someone just because anything else isn't worth the hassle?

  • I was wondering if they would be willing to pay a fee for used/uninteresting CDs like they do with pop cans.

    I would require that the maker pay the refund fees.

    We could do Data mining with a shovel and dig up the landfills. Just think we could at last bring down AOL by a forced return of all those CDs they send out.

  • by Ars-Fartsica ( 166957 ) on Saturday April 27, 2002 @10:37AM (#3420808)
    I'm glad to see people finally start dealing with the very toxic waste produced by computers. The old maxim of waste managemen, "reduce, reuse, recycle" really is apt.

    We should be reducing our consumption of computing equipment, and thankfully huge performance gains in recent years allow us to own them longer.

    Reuse is a great second consideration. You probably have very high standards for you computer's performance...but I bet you neighbor doesn't! GIve the damn thing away to someone who can make real use of it.

    Finally recycle. A great first-step approach here would be to start a business that takes disposed of computers, strips them down and uses the parts to create ultra-low-price boxes that can be resold. For example - consider two individuals discarding PCs because of resource starvation in one aspect of their systems. Jimmy drops of a Pentium with a twenty GB hard drive. Ann drops off a PIII with hardly any disk space. Well, combine Jimmy's disk with Ann's CPU and you have the start of a PC that you could actually sell for maybe $200. Of course you would be obligated to cleanly dispose of the parts you don't use, but you get the idea. I'm surprised someone hasn't tried this.

    • It's much simpler to just drop them off at my house. And if you can't be bothered, call me, and I'll come pick them up.

      Besides, you could at least be creative. For instance, I have a friend who heats his house in the winter with some Vaxen. He also gets some free cpu cycles out of all that heat too, even if it means VMS. That's what I call reuse.
  • by fons ( 190526 )

    Everybody who thinks that people who THROW AWAY UNIX BOXEN should be banned from posting on slashdot, raise their hands.
    • Everybody who thinks that people who THROW AWAY UNIX BOXEN should be banned from posting on slashdot, raise their hands.

      "Me too!"

      Oh, sorry.

      Thought I was in USENET.
    • *raised hand*
    • ...people who THROW AWAY UNIX BOXEN...

      T'was a hard thing to do, definitely. (And if this had gone up sooner, and I've have seen the posts from locals who were interested, I'd have saved them out from the pile.) I thought about putting them up on Yahoo auctions, but shipping would be very difficult and expensive - the boxen themselves are small, but the monitors are monsterous. (I'm not even sure you could ship them in a standard cardboard box. If only I'd been able to get them to work with my Linux boxen...I tried but no luck.)

      But the hardware isn't supported by any of the free Unices, not even NetBSD, and the OS that's on there is a beta release of Trusted HP-UX - which means that to get anything done with them you have to mess around with the MaxSix trusted networking extensions. That's a pain that outweighs any potential usefullness.

      Still, they're being recycled, not just dumped - so their component molecules will yet have a chance to participate in the Great Chain of Computation.

  • Anyone know anything about places like this in New York? Preferably the Rochester area. I mean there are lots of computer folk up here, but no computer recycling I know of. It would help us out a lot if we could pick up some old boxen for servin' small time stuff.
    • Re:New York? (Score:3, Informative)

      by saintlupus ( 227599 )
      Anyone know anything about places like this in New York? Preferably the Rochester area.

      Since it sounds like you're looking to acquire old hardware rather than discard of it, check out the Rochester Hamfest at the end of next month. Info is at -- the swap meet is huge, and I've gotten tons of toys there over the years. Right up the street from RIT.

  • Donate (Score:3, Insightful)

    by FreeMath ( 230584 ) on Saturday April 27, 2002 @10:47AM (#3420838) Homepage Journal
    Others may be able to make use of your old PC. There are many places arround the country, like Freebytes [] in Atlanta.
    • Re:Donate (Score:3, Informative)

      by PD ( 9577 )
      Goodwill Computing in Austin, TX. Fun place to visit. I'm taking my old server (or parts of it at least) there this afternoon.
      • Would you happen to know of similar place in Houston. Austin's not a bad drive, but if I can find some place closer...
    • Not so fast... There are a lot of older computers that schools have no use for. Older PC's are especially of finite use because they don't run the applications the students need them to run. Most academic apps need Windows and even those apps that can be Linux driven need something quicker than a Pentium-II. Could anyone imagine running a modern window manager (e.g. KDE or GNOME) and OpenOffice on a P2 with 64 megabytes of memory? It's just not going to work...

      If you really want to help out your neighborhood school, donate money. Money allows schools to address what their real needs are because they actually see the pain points. For all we know, a school may have just received an incredible budget to buy new computers while being denied a budget for books.

      • If your hardware is too old to be usefull, they will properly dispose of the hazardous material, or direct to to a place that will.
      • ...even those apps that can be Linux driven need something quicker than a Pentium-II. Could anyone imagine running a modern window manager (e.g. KDE or GNOME) and OpenOffice on a P2 with 64 megabytes of memory?

        Please tell me your kidding. While I'll admit a P-II might not cut it for CAD or video editing and 64MBs of ram is a little tight, they can make pretty good Linux and probably Windows boxes. Up to a couple of weeks ago my main PC was a k6 233 running Linux and it was quite usable. Almost everything that came with Mandrake 8.2 (other then some of the games) was usable. Sure it might take a couple of seconds to launch OpenOffice but it wasn't that bad. Hell, some schools still have Apple IIGS labs. Even a 486 would be an improvement.

  • This has got to be better than the option reported a couple months back, that many old computers wind up dumped in Asia [].

    I see a problem with cost. Proper disposal of a computer in the United States normally costs between $5 and $10, compared to $1 or less in third-world countries.

  • by michael ( 4716 ) on Saturday April 27, 2002 @10:54AM (#3420864) Homepage
    People in New Jersey and New York City might be interested in the Trenton Computer Festival [] next weekend. Lots of old junk to buy/sell/barter/gawk at. Recycling is good, but if someone wanted to pay for your old junk, that's even better.
  • by LennyDotCom ( 26658 ) <> on Saturday April 27, 2002 @10:56AM (#3420867) Homepage Journal
    When I owned my computer store [] I used to get tons of computers that people would just give me that I wouldn't buy from them I had the whole basement fl of antique computers. You could put a free ad in your local paper and people would probably give you more computers then you could handle.
  • flea market. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by GutBomb ( 541585 )
    for older computers, such as the vic-20, some of the really old apple 2 clones, and atari or TI machines, i used to go to the Mile High Flea market in denver. they always had really good selections on the old stuff. last year I picked up a vic-20, cassette player, vicmodem (300 baud even!), and a couple games on tape for $11. then I found a 1541 drive a cople booths over for an additional $5. every time going down there I have seen lots of computers from that era. I picked up a mac plus there once for $14 too :) They have 386s and crap too, and once i found an AT&T machine. it ran some kind of unix. the salesman said it was DOS, but... he pronounced DOS like DOSE :)
    • The AT&T 7300 Unix PC. Or one of its brothers, the 3b1 or 3b2. I yearn for the days of Starlan 1base5 (Not really, first network gear I had were 3 thinnet ethernet cards, but you get the idea).
  • I live in Baltimore County, and I've been waiting for something like this. My house has had more roomates than I can count in the past 6 years, and we've collected the electronic junk of people who skipped town, joined the military, or otherwise departed and left us to take care of their garbage. At one point, we had 6 VCR's (including 2 Beta decks) 2 TV's, 4 tape decks, 1 reciever, 2 record players, and a few Nintendo 8-bit decks. None of them worked well enough to use in any capacity. We tried to find some way to get rid of them in a non-destructive way, but since they were broken, donation was out of the question. So there they sit. Except for the 486 and 386 that we took a couple golf clubs and baseball bats to. THAT was a fun afternoon ;) ...
    I can't say how happy I am that this is now available, and in my home town no less! and its even cooler that Baltimore County got mentioned on the front page of Slashdot ;)
  • Here in California it is being proposed that a recycling tax be placed on new computer equipment sold in this state. This isn't like some deposit fee that you get back if you recycle the item either.
  • "e-Cycling"? Wouldn't that be electronic cycling, like cybernetic bikes, or bicycles with web cams, or remote rebooting, or something to do with, you know, cycling of some sort?

    Yet Another Confusing Buzzword, from people too lazy to do more than stick "e" or "web" in front of some mangled, ambigious collection of syllables. Here's the real definition

    "E-cycling: the inevitable, cyclical, occurance of ill-defined buzzwords formed by mindlessly attaching the letter "e" to some word or pseudo word. See websturbation."

  • by Anonymous Coward
    As a service ... let's list existing organizations and known recycling methods for computers and other electronics. As techies it is highly in our interest to see the gear we use and love not overly burden the environment we live in .. as techies we should be aware of the effects our actions, the toys and machines we play with etc, have on the environment around us. It's not just a matter of use it and toss it, like the electronics makers would like us to believe.

    Here's what I know of ... - in the SF Bay Area, recycles computers and related stuff, refurbishes whatever it can, donates it back to charity service. Giving equipment to the organization is itself a charitable donation (for which I was about to take about $2500 in donations in this years taxes).

    If you are a Fremont CA resident, BFI operates a drop-off center on Tuesdays and Thursdays, 8am-4pm. There's a $10 fee for dropping anything off. They accept limited types of equipment (personal computer, portable TV, console TV, plugin stereo systems). Phone is 510-657-3500.

    The Recyclery, at the Newby Island Landfill, this is at the I-880/Dixon Landing Road exit, the place where there's a big BFI landfill. They take stuff the Fremont dropoff center will not take. THere's a fee, and they're open mon-sat. Phone is 408-262-1401

    - David
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Ugh. My passwords/logon ids are currently lost in the bitbucket somewhere right now. . but anyways..

    Nationally (Internationally, actually), there is the Share the Technology [] site which has a great database setup for registering materials available to give away or wanted (primarily by non-profit organizations/NGO's.)

    Then, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA... there is what is known as, well, actually there are SEVERAL efforts. I represent one called the Please Take M.E. [] (M.E.=Materials Exchange) which is a co-operative membership unwanted materials exchange run under the wing of a non-profit charitable organization called CARP, the Creative Arts Resource Project [] which accepts unwanted materials of MANY different kinds.

    CARP [] is also involved in a collective which is known as the Philadelphia Reuse Collaborative which is an organization of organizations that include a number of organizations that recycle/reuse old computing equipment, give it away, etc.

    CARP [] is ramping up activity majorly right now, and is actively seeking any potentially interested parties, especially in getting the word out to science teachers, art teachers, and hobbyists of all the fun geek and nerd kinds.. robotics, electronics, etc etc etc. so please get in contact or pass on the word to anybody in the region you think may be interested. If you dream of being SRL, Negativland, or on Robot Wars, Junkyard Wars, etc. then you should get involved with CARP.

    AND if that doesn't sell you enough, then how about the fact that is currently hosted on It's gotta be cool. :D

  • try this []

    and if anyone wants 14" monitors or 3/486's contact me. free except for shipping.
  • Meanwhile, in Finland..

    I think there's something to be learned elsewhere as well. So far, if I want to get rid of for example monitors that I don't have time or skill to fix, I have to either pay 5 euros a piece to get them into some place that strips them into pieces and dumps them away - or hope that someone will take them for free and make use of them.

    The thing is - I figure any country with at least some history in computers and nerds(wait, isn't that almost every country) needs some place that manages this. The reasons are obvious and it seems to me that it wouldn't be a huge waste of money and it might be a nice step to enviromentalism.

    I'd like to see the people working in these kinds of places to include a few with some hardware knowledge...

    "Wanted: geek to play around with second hand hardware. Benefits: all the old skool junk you can carry"

    The end result would be larger towns having a large hall somewhere at the edge of town where rents are cheap, with a lot of hardware stuff in some sorts of categories. Maybe a few trucks to drive around the country across smaller places, gathering stuff now and then. Some of it will be reused by people wanting to play with stuff. Perhaps the staff might work to fix some things that could be sold for cheap or donated to some place that needs them, like poor countries, schools, clubs etc. Of course some would go to waste, but properly recycled.

    The key thing is - don't just gather the materials, gather the potential uses as well. For example, a 486 or even an old pentium might be useless for most places, but consider the geeky uses for such things, consider places that don't have any computers. Value in dollars or euros? Little. Value in practical use? Large to very large.
  • Ship it to Chicago (Score:3, Informative)

    by Animats ( 122034 ) on Saturday April 27, 2002 @01:19PM (#3421231) Homepage
    United Recycling [] will take computers if shipped to them. Contact them for a shipping label. They pay shipping to their plant in Chicago from several Midwest states.

    They have an automated shredding and separation system for electronics. Such systems have been around for a while. A combination of grinders, screens, AC and DC magnets, cyclones, and float tanks separates out ferrous metals, nonferrous metals, dense plastics, and low-density plastics. Once separated, the metals have some value, the high-density plastics have some marginal value, and what's left is no worse than household waste.

    CRT recycling is still a problem. There are very few plants that can cut up a CRT and recover the leaded glass for use in making new CRTs.

    • Here are some numbers : scrap steel is worth about a penny per pound, so a junky old AT case is maybe worth less than 1/3 of a snickers bar as metal. Mixed scrap aluminium & steel ( power supplies & drives ) are worth under 10 cents a pound, so thats another 1/3 snickers from our AT. Scrap circuit boards are worth just over $1 per pound. Figure the labor to take the AT apart, pick it up, and all the other fixed costs, and the snickers bar is not yet paid for from one AT. TVs and monitors cost the recycler money to send out to a specialty glass furnace. One way to know if someone really is recycling the monitors is to see who is paying for them to be melted safely. Squashing an old AT for metal might just be the kindest thing that ever happened to it ..It seems like there ought to be a rec.collecting.comp (similar to the stamp collecting newsgroups) for other old stuff that only a collector would want.
  • See, now I read the title, and I thought the article would be a recycling program for Palm Pilots. ;-)
  • Someone on my floor has a very enlightened attitude. When throwing out computer stuff, they leave it in the garbage chute room. (Normally a no-no. Stuff has to go down the chute or in the dumsters out-back.)

    I picked up a moniter and a nice keyboard a few months ago. They go well with the 486/66 that work was throwing out a couple years ago. (Actually I picked up two of them.)

    Last week there was an Epson printer, but I was in a hurry, and didn't have time to look at it. I might have taken it, and replaced it with my HP Deskjet 500. :^)

    I'm hoping for a 17" monitor next!

  • if any area geeks are looking to scavange old gear this might be a prime opportunity

    Be careful if you decide to root through the recycling center's collection of old stuff. Many municipalities consider the property their own, making it a criminal act to pilfer from the recycle piles. My own town refuses to let you walk off with recylced computer junk due to hazardous waste laws: It would be like letting you browse through all the discarded pesticides and chemicals, picking the ones you want to take home with you.
  • eCycling is my Specialized Ground Control Comp A1 [] equiped with hokey spokes [], Garmin GPS [], Bike Brain [] and a 1,000 song sound system [].
  • I've got a few old cases that I don't want to deal with. I'm guessing that these can go to some regular kind of recycling or disposal center since they don't have all the nasty chemicals that pcb's and other components have in them.

    What kind of places would take them?

  • Bear in mind that alot of computers that are collected for recycling wind up in some poor Asian country, where they create a horrible enviormental problem [].

  • by Refrag ( 145266 )
    This has been happening for a while now in Cary, NC.
  • The company that does most of the "ecycling events in the DC, Maryland, Virginia area is and your not allowed to pick through the old computers at all.
  • I will recycle all Digital Equipment Corporation PDP-11, PDP-8, and other PDP computers that are shipped to my recycling center in Oklahoma. There is no fee for this service, and I will gladly provide a signed, notarized receipt that absolves my customers of all liability for their recycled machines. You can rest assured that your machines will be processed properly and will not simply wind up in some landfill.
  • Microsoft and the BSA will be inspecting all PCs sent for recycling to make sure that the original OEM CD, manual, Quick Start booklet, registration, hologram, CD-key sticker and cellophane wrapping are included, so they know which PC owners to sue for using the products they purchased.
  • For those of you in the Atlanta metro area, check out ZenTech [] for local computer recycling.

Our business in life is not to succeed but to continue to fail in high spirits. -- Robert Louis Stevenson