A place for your old computer

Aging computers used by federal officials will now have an environmentally safe place to go when they become obsolete.

Environmental Protection Agency officials have awarded the first contracts to help all federal agencies dispose of old computers and used electronic equipment in an environmentally responsible manner.

The program is called the Government Wide Acquisition Contracts for Recycling Electronics and Asset Disposition services, and it is the first organized effort of its kind.

The program comes not a moment too soon. Government officials buy 7 percent of the world's computers. In fiscal 2005 alone, EPA officials expect federal agencies to spend almost $60 billion on information technology equipment, software, infrastructure and services.

Until now, the government has been disposing of approximately 10,000 computers a week, which often end up in storage closets, warehouses, landfills or overseas. But much of the electronic equipment contains toxic materials such as lead, mercury, chromium, cadmium and beryllium. If mishandled, the toxic waste could be released into the environment, causing damage to the air and waterways and creating liability problems for the federal government.

As part of the deal, contractors must maintain an audit trail of the equipment's final destination and document reclamation and recycling efforts. Also for the first time, the contracts will use a share-in-savings program in which the contractor will attempt to find ways to save money in the recycling effort and share the savings with agencies.

EPA officials awarded eight contracts worth up to $9 million to small businesses to help properly dispose of computers. The contractors are Molam International, Supply Chain Services, Unicor/Federal Prison Industries, Asset Recovery, Hesstech, Liquidity Services, Global Investment Recovery and Hobi International.

For more on the EPA program, see http://www.epa.gov/oamhpod1/admin_placement/0300115/fact.htm

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