Computer Donations: IMPORTANT Dos and Don’t

As owners of Urban E Recycling, occasionally we are asked that the computers we take in, go to those in need.

Here's the challenge...

As owners of Urban E Recycling, occasionally we are asked that the computers we take in, go to those in need. Although my co-owner and I would love to find families in need for working computer, there are some challenges to that request.

First, there is personal information held on those electronics. Maybe you feel like there is no harmful information left on the computer, or maybe you believe all is deleted because you set the computer back to factory setting. Perhaps you ran a program to clean the data. We have to consider a broader aspect.

We, as an electronic recycling company, cannot release any item with a hard drive untill it goes through our official DoD data shredding process. When our process is completed, there is nothing left on the hard drive. Not even the basic softwares.

“Nothing.” was the answer. “That’s why that office is piled up. Why do you think we put you in that office. You can’t just throw electronics away. All data has to be destroyed. Just remember, policy says everything needs to be recycled. There is no budget for I.T. waste. Good luck!” He grinned and walked away.

What does that mean?

It means no one can use that computer unless a hard drive is replaced and software is uploaded on the hard drive.

Uploading Microsoft is costly. The retail price of Microsoft is from $70 to a $200+, depending on what kind of license you buy. Our company doesn’t charge for our services, and we don’t refurbish. Urban E Recycling dismantles electronics and sells the elements as scrap. Scrapping electronics is how we make our money, and that is also how we can give our services away for free.

Secondly, We pledge that the computers we receive will never end up in the landfill. We take our promise very seriously.

Here’s the common scenario: Someone has working computer. Except for the computer is unable to update, or it has a virus, or it’s just too slow for the present owner. They give this computer to a charity organization with all good intentions. The organization gives the computer to a family in need.

Where does that computer end up?

“67% of all computers end up in the landfill. We are doing better than New Zealand, ...as much as 98% of New Zealand's household electronics end up in a landfill."

Leibermann 2015

A customer asks if we could find a good home for a few computers that they had no use for. We made no promises. We told the client we would try to get some computers in the hands of someone in need, but explained that the hard drives would be taken out and cleaned, so this might not work out they way they hoped.

Update: Good News!

GOOD NEWS! We did find a perfect home for these computers. This doesn’t happen often, but the timing worked out great. The Crisis Center of Tampa needed some computers that fit the description of the ones recently received. We had a good working relationship with the Crisis Center because we have been picking up their end-of-life electronics as needed for the past two years. Of course, the hard drives were wiped clean at DoD standards, but that was not a problem for them. The Crisis Center has a special license to get deep discounts on the systems they use. Urban E Recycling tested the computers, put four gigs in, and a clean hard drive in each. It was our pleasure to hand those computers over to the Crisis Center, Friday, June 5, 2015.

  • 42% of erased hard drives leaves bits of data on hard drives.
  • Shredding is the required standard by NSA and The Department of Defense.
  • Information is non-recoverable after hard drive shredding.

Mother Nature doesn’t want your old computers but we do. 

Where security is our priority

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