PC recycling program offers bonus

Gateway Inc. is launching a program today to help its public- and private-sector customers get credit for getting rid of their old PCs in an eco-friendly manner.

Under its Gateway Asset Recovery Services program, the company will collect and ship an organization's machines for about $30 per unit. Then, Gateway wipes the hard drives clean, meeting Defense Department standards if needed. The company then either refurbishes and resells computers or disposes of them according to local, state or federal environmental guidelines.

If Gateway re-sells the machines, the donor receives credit from the proceeds toward new machines purchased from the company.

"With our lifecycle services, it allows us to go to market and be more of a partner with public-sector customer and support them through their whole life and not just selling them PCs," said Jim Jones, vice president and general manger of Gateway's service product group, adding the program provides some return on investment during these bad economic times.

In a pilot project a few months back with Topeka, Kan., the company removed or upgraded 500 units, saving one hour of processing per unit, resulting in more than 62 eight-hour workdays, said company officials. That also helped the city free up space and/or pay for its storage.

The program is in response to changing state laws preventing the dumping of computer equipment and other electronic equipment in landfills. Such equipment accounts for about 220 million tons of waste annually, Jones said, adding that about three-quarters of obsolete electronics just sit in storage.

Eric Seastedt, Gateway's senior services manger, said dozens of state governments are considering or enacting laws to address the disposal of computer equipment. He said some computer parts are toxic, notably cathode ray tube monitors that contain lead. "We end up breaking it down to the microchip," he said. "Everything's recycled from soup to nuts."

Gateway is being proactive in addressing the problem, Seastedt said. He said the company offers a simple, flat rate, providing its customers with credit when warranted. He said some competitors have a more complicated program involving revenue sharing.

While the program is also an incentive to attract new customers, he said it's an absolute need for everyone as well.

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