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Apple expands recycling program

Mac purchasers will receive labels for free shipping and recycling of their old computers, whether they are Macs or PCs.

Apple Computer will now accept old computers--Macs or PCs--for recycling from anyone who purchases a new Mac from one of the company's retail stores or via its Web site.

The company previously maintained a recycling drop-off in its Cupertino, Calif., headquarters, where people could leave their old computer equipment.

Computer recycling has become a hot topic within the tech industry as the amount of electronic waste continues to grow and damage the environment.

Apple CEO Steve Jobs has been criticized at shareholder meetings for the company's environmental record.

As part of the new program, which began Wednesday, Mac purchasers will receive an e-mail with instructions and a label for free shipping and recycling. The old computers will be recycled within the United States, Apple said, and no hazardous materials will be shipped overseas.

The company already has an iPod recycling program that offers a 10 percent discount on the purchase of a new iPod digital audio player.

Dell offers a similar free-recycling option for PC purchasers, as well as a general recycling program that charges $10 to $20 per machine, depending on weight. Hewlett-Packard has a list of electronic equipment that can be turned in for recycling in the U.S., often in exchange for a discount on the purchase of a new HP product.