Disposing of Old Computers and Other Electronics revised 9/29/08

Whatever you do, it's important to NOT just toss computers and other electronics in the trash. Beside taking up precious space in landfills, such equipment contains significant amounts of heavy metals and other toxic substances, which tend to make their way from landfills into groundwater.

The first place to contact is Nonprofit Technology Resources, 1524 Brandywine Street, Philadelphia, PA 19130, 215-564-6686, http://ntronline.org. While they seem to prefer whole systems rather than collections of parts, they'll probably be willing to take at least some of your computer equipment.   Machines that are salvageable (and not too old) are refurbished, and then placed with other nonprofits and low income individuals; the rest are properly recycled.

Team Children (960 West Rittenhouse Road, Audubon, PA 19403, 610-666-1795, teamchildren@aol.com, http://www.teamchildren.com) distributes low cost recycled computers to "economically challenged families; schools and organizations".

Also consider The National Cristina Foundation (NCF), 500 West Putnam Avenue, Greenwich, CT 06830, 203-863-9100, ncf@cristina.org, http://www.cristina.org. They accept a wide range of electronic equipment - computers, PDAs, printers, scanners, other peripherals, digital cameras, etc. You can enter a description of what you have on their web site, and they will attempt to match your items with local non-profits, schools and public agencies who will accept them. The recipient organizations will then contact you directly to make arrangements for pickup or delivery. After the transfer is complete, NCF will provide the donor with a receipt letter for tax purposes.

The Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia periodically collects old cell phones, which are then distributed to victims of domestic violence for emergency use.

The City of Philadelphia conducts electronics recycling several times a year at various locations, and accepts a wide range of electronics including computer equipment. Computer electronics can be dropped off at the Northeast and Northwest Sanitation Convenience Sites, located at State Road and Ashburner Street, and Domino Lane & Umbria Street, from 8:00 AM to 6:00 PM, Monday through Saturday. You can learn more about recycling household hazardous waste at http://www.phila.gov/streets/hazardous_waste.html.

Whatever you're left with can be delivered to Elemental, Inc., a metals recycler at 2371 Church Street, Philadelphia, PA 19124, 215-289-1475, http://eleminc.com.

Whether you sell, give away or recycle your old computer, it's important to first wipe the hard drive clean, so that snoops and identity thieves cannot recover your personal information from it.