Formerly computers for Learning
Salisbury, CT 06068
Paul DePaolo, Project Manager
The Computer Project (TCP) has been recycling computers since July 1998, when the Becton-Dickenson Company donated 50 computers to us. Since that time, TCP has received over 250 computers and given away most of those to non-profit groups, day-care centers, students and other individuals. TCP checks each computer and repairs those that can be fixed, pulls useable parts from others that can not be fixed. TCP offers training to students and adults, preparing workshops with the equipment given to us. Volunteers have learned to troubleshoot their computer problems and help others in the community.
In the process of dis-assembling computers, TCP reduces the bulk of computer waste considerably. Some cases, the beige containers that computers are built into can be reused and those that are not useful are strictly metal waste suitable for metal recycling.
Circuitry that has been removed, such as mainboards, video cards and modems, can be reused and take up much less room for recycling purposes. These are lightweight and flat and can be stored in cardboard boxes. TCP believes that we can reduce the recycling bulk by applying common-sense rules to these boxes, the cpu's and reusing what is useful.
Our biggest challenge is dealing with monitors, and to a lesser extent, printers. They are both bulky, and often not repairable or worth repairing due to the incredibly low cost of new replacement printers, in particular (under $100 up to $200 for a typical printer). Nonetheless, some 20% are useful when brought to us or to the transfer station and can be reused. Monitors, however, while some are useful after the original owner gives them up, are virtually impossible to repair locally and dangerous. They are dangerous to the environment, containing about 4 pounds of lead each! They are dangerous to open and repair, as they retain lethal levels of electrical charges in their massive coils, sometimes THOUSANDS of volts, sometimes for YEARS!
So, no reduction in bulk can be achieved with monitors or printers, and just a small percentage can be reused. TCP will sort these out and cull the useful ones to reduce the numbers approximately 20%. That is my best guess.
Overall, that is the brief recycling history of old computers at The Computer Project as it pertains to the Northwest Corner. We use space at the Douglas Library in Canaan currently and would certainly need more space if we were to publicize our work. Relatively few people know about us, but we could attract more volunteers with a project involving community recycling. Our current dilemma, environmental and economic, would surely bring more people to offer help breaking down computers, if tools (screwdrivers) and space are provided conveniently located to the transfer station, wherever it will be. TCP could transport potentially good computers to Canaan for assembly and testing. We would need to know that we have a space for retiring parts that do not work, that is back to the transfer station. TCP would also like to assist in the recycling drive that the State of Connecticut puts together yearly to Torrington for computers and TVs.