No computer should go to waste

Recycling unwanted electronics supports the reuse of valuable raw materials.

It is no secret the United States has become increasingly dependent on electronic products in the past few decades. Many of today’s college students scarcely can remember life without cell phones and laptop computers. These tools make life more convenient, communication more affordable and information more attainable – all welcome changes. However, these advancements have created an accumulation of old, unwanted electronic products, and many people don’t know what to do with them.

By 2007, nearly 500 million computers will have become obsolete since 1997 and mobile phones are now discarded at an estimated rate of 130 million per year.

Environmentally sensitive materials in these products can end up in landfills if they are not reused or recycled properly. When recycled properly, unwanted computers and their parts can be viable resources for raw materials in new products.

Donating working electronics saves valuable resources by giving others the opportunity to own technology to which they might not otherwise have had access. For example, through organizations like the National Cristina Foundation, consumers can donate their computers to organizations in their communities that help disabled and economically disadvantaged children and adults.

Responsibly recycling unwanted electronics assures the safe management of sensitive materials and supports the reuse of valuable raw materials. Even if the components themselves no longer have working value, the raw materials of computers, including metals, plastics and glass, can be broken down and rebuilt into a variety of new products used by countless industries.

As college students prepare for a new school year or their first jobs in the fall, many will have the opportunity to upgrade their computers and electronics. So it’s a good thing it’s easier and more affordable than ever to donate or responsibly recycle old electronics.

Many companies offer affordable opportunities to recycle electronics.

The following Web sites offer information about how to recycle or donate unwanted computer equipment easily and affordably: and


John Mullen is vice president of higher education and health care for Dell Computers. Please send comments to [email protected]