Obsolete Equipment, Free Recycling

Unless you’re planning to open a museum in tribute to small business technology, you’ll be glad to hear that there’s finally a way for you to safely dispose of your old computer and electronic equipment. And it won’t cost you a dime.

Office Depot and HP have teamed up to create what they call “the country’s first free, nationwide, in-store electronics recycling program.” Starting July 18 and running through September 6, 2004, Office Depot will accept a wide range of products for recycling at all of its 870 stores nationwide &#151 for no charge. HP handles the actual recycling.

Cleaning Up
“Computer obsolescence is on the rise,” says Chuck Rubin, an executive vice-president at Office Depot. “By 2005, 250 million PCs will be obsolete. The average lifespan of a PC will be two years compared to 1992 when the lifespan was 4.5 years.”

Office Depot

Computers consist mostly of recyclable materials, and landfills ban some of the materials. “As a company, ” says Rubin, “Office Depot is committed to environmental stewardship. By combining HP’s leadership in electronics recycling and our retail presence and reverse logistics capabilities, we offer our customers an environmentally sound way to dispose of obsolete electronics.”

According to officials, the list of computer and electronic products they’ll accept (from any manufacturer) includes: desktops, notebooks, keyboards, mice, printers, scanners, handhelds, digital cameras, fax machines, desktop copiers, flat panel displays, monitors, TVs (up to 27 inches), TV/VCR combos and cell phones. The recycling service is free, but people are limited to one solution &#151 a computer system with PC, monitor, mouse and keyboard &#151 or one product &#151 a scanner or a PDA, for example &#151 per person, per day.

Good for Business, Good for the Earth


HP began recycling back in 1987, starting with computer and printing products, and has a goal of recycling one billion pounds of material by the year 2007. “Our commitment to environmental responsibility is just part of the way we do business at HP,” says Lee Ray Massey, senior vice-president of imaging and printing graphics. “Not because it’s popular or cool or because we have to &#151 it’s because we know it’s the right thing to do in terms of corporate responsibility and as sound business strategy.” To date, HP has recycled 500 million pounds of products.

The recycled materials will be collected and taken to HP’s recycling facilities near Nashville, Tenn., or in Roseville, Calif. The facility separates the materials, grinds them into pieces about the size of a quarter and ships them out to be made into new products.

After September 6, Office Depot and HP will evaluate the success of the program and look for opportunities to improve it. Both companies expect to continue the program is some form.

Lauren Simonds is the managing editor of SmallBusinessComputing.com

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