First Choice: Reuse
Reuse is the environmentally preferable option for managing older electronic equipment. Extending the life of old products minimizes the pollution and resource consumption associated with making new products. Reuse also gives people who cannot afford new products access to electronic equipment at reduced or no cost.
Some states exempt electronic equipment earmarked for reuse from hazardous waste regulations which apply to transportation and handling. Massachusetts, for instance, has relaxed its hazardous waste transportation regulations for computer monitors and televisions that are to be reused or recycled. In Minnesota and Florida, electronic equipment generated by businesses and consolidated from household collections are managed under streamlined special hazardous waste requirements. Some states are working to reduce or eliminate hazardous waste requirements for these materials
Many nonprofit and charitable organizations are able to accept working electronic equipment, particularly computers, and offer them to schools, community organizations, and needy individuals. Throughout the country, these organizations help match equipment donors with recipients, and provide computers, training services, and access to the Internet. Many local charitable organizations such as Goodwill and Salvation Army accept, resell, or donate older electronic equipment. These and other nonprofit organizations may be able to provide documentation of your donation, so that it may be applied toward your federal income tax return. Large companies, in particular, can take advantage of the 21st Century Classrooms Act for Private Technology Investment. Under this legislation, corporations can deduct from the full purchase price of computers if the equipment is no more than two years old. Corporations can utilize annual depreciation deductions; in essence, companies can receive double tax benefits.
Some reuse operations, particularly charitable organizations, do not have the technical staff on hand to assist with system assembly, repair and upgrading. Thus, it is important that when exploring a reuse option for your used electronics, you do not donate non-working equipment working or pieces of equipment that are part of a larger system, unless you have checked with the reuse organization and they have the capability to accept equipment in such forms. For instance, many reuse organizations only accept computers of a certain processor speed. Some schools and organizations, however, accept any type of working computer because they use software specifically designed to increase the utility of older computers.
For a list of quality organizations to donate your computers, visit the NRC web site at http://www.nrc-recycle.org/resources/electronics/links.htm.