Yesterday was Earth Day, and so it's the perfect time to talk about an IT issue that normally flies pretty low under the radar: what to do with old computers.
I have known organizations that have had closets, storage units, and (in a couple cases) warehouses full of old computers that are no longer in use. What to do with all of these computers is a major headache, and these old systems are usually kept around for a variety of reasons, including:
- The possibility that they might be used in the future
- The desire to give away the computers to someone else who can use them, because they are still in working order
- Simply not sure what to do with them or how to dispose of them
According to Earth 911:
"In 2005, the National Safety Council estimated that 63 million computers became obsolete. It is estimated as of 2007 these stored computers will amount to about 500 million computers."
Earth911.org is not a recycler or waste management company but a portal that helps you locate resources for recycling, donating, and/or disposing of obsolete computers in your area. I entered my zip code here at the TechRepublic office in Louisville, Kentucky, and clicked through to their directory for computer recycling. It returned a list of 25 services that were divided up by municipal, commericial, and national organizations. Some of them were as far away as Cincinnati, but most of them were within 20-30 miles. Take a look at the Earth911 PDF flyer.
Here are some other resources that can help you find the best way to get rid of your old computers:
And, of course, with whatever types of recycling, donation, or disposal programs you use, you always have to remember to securely wipe all data from your old computers. Don't forget that step.
So, that brings me to the whole point of this exercise, which is to ask you how you currently deal with this issue: