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Office Depot, HP start free tech recycling

Hewlett-Packard has teamed with retailer Office Depot to offer free recycling for any make of computers, digital cameras, fax machines, cell phones and other electronics.
Computer cases are sorted in bins for crushing after parts have been removed at Hewlett-Packard's recycling plant in Roseville, Calif.Bob Galbraith / AP file
/ Source: The Associated Press

The world’s two largest personal-computer manufacturers have gotten a little greener.

Hewlett-Packard Co. and Dell Inc. this week announced free programs to encourage U.S. consumers to recycle toxics-filled computers and electronics.

Hewlett-Packard has teamed with retailer Office Depot to offer free recycling for any make of computers, monitors, digital cameras, fax machines, cell phones and other electronics.

Consumers can drop off electronics at any Office Depot store between July 18 and Labor Day. The service is limited to one computer system or other electronic device per customer per day. The free, in-store recycling is the first program of its kind in the United States.

Dell, for its part, said that beginning next week U.S. customers who buy a new Dimension desktop or Inspiron notebook computer can recycle their old computers free. The offer expands on a free recycling program the company has had for printers since March 2003.

Activists happy with move
Environmental groups, which have long blasted the computer industry for lax recycling efforts, lauded the news. Only about 11 percent of electronics are recycled.

“Finally, consumers and small businesses have some options that don’t charge you to do the right thing,” said Robin Schneider, executive director of the Austin-based Texas Campaign for the Environment.

The group is one of three that teamed up for the Computer TakeBack Campaign, which monitors the recycling efforts of the world’s computer makers.

Hundreds of chemicals and metals are used to manufacture technology equipment. Computers alone usually contain lead, cadmium, mercury and flame retardants.

In May, the campaign published a report that ranked the recycling programs of Dell and HP above many foreign competitors. A year earlier, Dell fared poorly in the report, mainly for its use of prison workers who earned 20 cents to $1.26 per hour to recycle hardware.

Texas-based Dell now uses two domestic recycling companies and says none of the parts will end up in overseas landfills. Palo Alto, Calif.-based HP has recycling centers in Roseville, Calif., and near Nashville, Tenn.

More about Dell program
Michael Rosenstein, Dell’s director of consumer e-business, said the new program was in reaction to demands from consumers and environmental groups. He would not say how long Dell’s limited offer would last.

The Dell program lets consumers get free recycling as part of the checkout process on its Web site. Buyers will get two prepaid shipping labels — one for the computer, one for the monitor — and instructions to put old equipment of any make or model in the boxes that contained the new equipment. DHL will pick up the boxes for free.

Those not buying new Dell computers can buy home pickup recycling for $5 per unit; the price had been $15.

HP also has a mail-based computer recycling plan that costs consumers $35. Similarly, IBM Corp. accepts mailed-in computers, printers and monitors, by any manufacturer, for a $30 fee, with shipping included.

Details on the two new programs are online at and