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HP: Don't trash that old computer

Hewlett-Packard is hoping a little green will encourage computer owners to recycle more of their old tech gear.

Hewlett-Packard is hoping a little green will help make computer owners recycle more of their old tech gear.

The computer maker is testing a program that gives those who recycle their old computers, monitors, printers or other gear a coupon worth up to $50 for any purchase of $60 or more on HP's online store. Under a program announced nearly two years ago, HP charges anywhere from $17 to $31 to recycle products. The company says the coupon will offset the amount customers must pay for the service, which ensures none of the gear ends up in landfills.

The need for recycling is growing, particularly as nonprofit agencies become less willing to accept older gear, said Renee St. Denis, manager of HP's recycling effort. The problem of what to do with all this aging equipment has become a major issue facing the tech industry.

"Now there is nobody to use it, and (charities) are coming to understand there is a cost to disposing of it properly," St. Denis said in an interview.

Dell Computer, which has a recycling program of its own, has been testing an offer in which people who recycle their PC through Dell get a 10 percent discount coupon for use in its software and peripherals stores.

With HP's promotion--which runs through April 30--the company hopes to find out whether a financial incentive will boost the number of products being recycled. The company said it already receives thousands of products each year, but would not be more specific on the amount.

"We thought we'd give this a shot; then we'll evaluate how to move forward," St. Denis said.

Those who return PCs, scanners, handhelds or inkjet printers will receive $20, while those who return monitors and laser printers will receive $30 coupons. A PC with a monitor fetches $50.

While most of the products HP gets back are obsolete, the company does keep a list of what some charities are looking for and will donate any gear that meets the charities' minimum standards.

"For the most part what we get in here is pretty darn old," St. Denis said.

HP's recycling program accepts its gear as well as similar products made by competitors.

"We don't want toasters, but we'll take other people's printers," St. Denis said.