Naked City

Kicking PCs to the Curb

Attempts to solve the growing problem of electronic waste may have taken a giant step forward this week, at least in Central Texas: The city of Austin, Dell, and Goodwill Industries have teamed up for a one-year pilot program of comprehensive computer recycling, including both drop-off and curbside options. The project, known as the Austin Computer Recycling Project, began offering this service on Monday.

"ACRP is the first comprehensive computer recovery, reuse, and recycling opportunity for Austin residents," announced Goodwill spokesman Malcolm Gardner at the construction site that will become Goodwill's new Computer Works facility, the central location for the recycling effort at 1015 Norwood Park Blvd., just northeast of the intersection of I-35 and Highway 183. It's "the only ongoing curbside computer pick-up in Texas and one of the few in the nation. The partnership between Goodwill, Dell, and the city of Austin leverages the service infrastructure of a municipality, the refurbishment and reuse expertise of a nonprofit, and the experience and resources of a technology company to offer a proactive community-based solution to environmentally responsible computer disposal."

Customers can either drop off their unwanted computer free of charge at any Goodwill location in the Austin area, or if they are city residents they can call 1-866-48REUSE and schedule a home pick-up for a $10 fee. Any brand of computer is accepted; the owner is responsible for removing data from the hard drive.

The program is considered a victory by environmental activists, who targeted Dell more than two years ago to improve its recycling programs. That campaign resulted in unprecedented cooperation between greens and the Round Rock-based company, a market leader in the PC business. Texas Campaign for the Environment director Robin Schneider said that Dell worked with her group to get the program's recycling partner, Access Technologies, to sign a pledge to not send components to irresponsible salvaging operations, especially ones in Third World countries.

All parties said they hope this project will become a model for similar ones around the nation. Goodwill said its Computer Works program currently receives about 20,000 systems per year and expects donations to increase by 50% through the program. For more info, go to www.computerrecyclingproject.com.

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Computer Recycling, Austin Computer Recycling Project, Dell, Goodwill Industries, Computer Works, Robin Schneider, Texas Campaign for the Environment, Malcolm Gardner

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