Northwest NEWS

August 7, 2000


King County Computer Recovery Project

King County is making it easier to deal with unwanted personal computers with the launch of their new Computer Recover Project. The pilot program is designed for people and small businesses to reuse, recycle and donate used computer components.
   The project is an extensive network of government agencies, non-profit organizations, computer recycling companies and computer retailers, to offer alternatives to disposing of used, obsolete or broken computer equipment. The county's Department of Natural Resources estimates that more than 136,000 households in the county currently have personal computers in storage, according to a recent survey. Add in the amount of used equipment stored by small businesses and that figure would easily double.
   Because most computer equipment contains hazardous materials, it should not be disposed of with other garbage. The cathode ray tubes, or picture tube, in computer monitors can contain between three to eight pounds of lead. Circuit boards also contain lead in addition to cadmium, mercury and other hazardous materials. In additon, many materials used in computer manufacture such as metals, glass and plastics, can and should be recovered and used again.
   The project reminds consumers that often a few minor upgrades can extend the usefulness of computers for years. Also for consideration is donating an older model, in working condition, to a non-profit organization. This extends the life span of an otherwise obsolete model with little resale value. However, donating broken equipment becomes an expense to charities rather than a contribution since they must then pay for disposal.
   The Computer Recovery Project includes resources for both upgrading and donating old computer equipment. Brochures that list collection sites are available at participating computer retail stores or be calling the Solid Waste Division at 206-296-8800. Collection site and retail store listings can also be found on King County's Computer Recovery Project Web site at
   To encourage consumers to properly refurbish or recycle their computers, the program will offer a limited number of coupons to King County residents and small businesses to recycle a broken computer monitor. The coupon covers the cost of transporting the monitors to Pennsylvania, the nearest facility that can recycle picture tubes into new ones. Most other computer equipment will be accepted at no charge. Coupons are limited to one per customer and expire on October 31, 2000.
   For more information about King County's Computer Recovery Project, or to request information in alternative formats, call 206-296-8800.