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Dell knows what do with dead PCs

The company is kicking off a program to teach universities and other institutions how to run computer recycling programs.

Dell and the National Recycling Coalition are kicking off a program to teach universities and other institutions how to run computer recycling programs.

The program in large part is aimed at making PC recycling more commonplace. When PCs die or become aged, most people don't know what to with them. Dell hopes to instruct these organizations on how to hold events that let people can turn in old equipment. Later, a recycling company determines whether a PC can be refurbished, given to charity or recycled, Dell spokesman Dean Kline said.

Dell on Friday will hold a training session on recycling at Stanford University. On Saturday, residents who live near the university in the California counties of Santa Clara and San Mateo will be able to bring in their PCs and have them recycled for free.


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Generally, consumers have to pay $7.50 to $15 or more to recycle a PC.

Getting rid of old computers has become a major problem in the past few years. Landfills are becoming swamped with plastic cases. Meanwhile, chips and other components often contain hazardous chemicals such as mercury and lead. While some parts can be salvaged, it can cost companies about $85 to $136 to get rid of an old PC, according to some studies.

State governments have begun to pass legislation that will tack on point-of-sale recycling fees and require manufacturers to phase out certain chemicals. International environmental groups have also put pressure on computer manufacturers and buyers, asserting that they are using countries in Asia as junkyards.

Dell, among others, offers a service in which the company picks up old PCs. Dell has held one-day free recycling events in 15 U.S. cities. Consumers brought in more than 2 million pounds of PC equipment to those events, Kline said.

"You see some really ancient systems," he said.

Initially, Dell hired Unicor, which uses prison labor, to disassemble machines for recycling. But under pressure, it severed the contract.