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Going Green At Staples
If you're like many Americans, you have one or two ... or three ... or more ... old computers and printers stacked at the bottom of a closet in your home. You now have a free option for recycling those units, as long as they carry the Dell brand name. Just bring your old Dell computer or printer to any Staples store in the United States, and you can leave it there for computer recycling. You don't even have to make a purchase to leave your computer for recycling at Staples. If you have a non-Dell computer or printer that you want to recycle, Staples will take those for a $10 fee.
Staples doesn't actually recycle Dell Computers itself. Instead, the office supply store passes the old computers and printers to Eco International, a company that specializes in computer recycling.
Staples and Dell initially teamed up last year, as Staples began selling Dell computers. The two companies also have teamed up for other recycling efforts, including cell phone recycling. Financially, both companies expect to take a loss, at least initially, on the program for recycling Dell computers. However, they hope eventually that the system will pay for itself.
Staples has more than 1,500 stores in the United States. The company began its recycling efforts in 2007, collecting more than 2 million pounds of electronics materials for recycling in less than two years.
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It's important to recycle old computer equipment, rather than tossing it into landfills. The electronics in computer equipment contain some dangerous metals and chemicals, which could poison the environment. Some circuit boards contain mercury and lead, for example, which are dangerous to both humans and other animals.
Eco International takes apart an old computer, finding components that can be resold and reused. Those components that are no longer useful are either shredded and sold to companies that can make use of the materials or disposed of in a manner that's friendly to the environment and landfills.
Called eCycling, the idea of recycling old electronics devices has grown in popularity and importance in recent years. The EPA estimates Americans recycled about 15% of their electronics annually from 1999-2005. In 2006 and 2007, however, the percentage of recycled electronics in the United States climbed to 18%. In 2007, the EPA estimates Americans disposed of 205.5 million computer products. About 157.3 million of those computer products ended up in a landfill.
The EPA offers a lot of interesting information on the importance of eCycling at this Web site: http://www.epa.gov/osw/conserve/materials/ecycling/index.htm.