Dell celebrates a decade of computer recycling

| August 19, 2014

This year, the Dell computer company celebrates a notable milestone: Its computer recycling program, Dell Reconnect, has been going strong for a full decade.

In “technology” years, a decade might as well be a century. Things in the technosphere have changed and advanced so rapidly over the last ten years that we laugh at processing speeds, the size of flash drives, and the design of websites that we thought were so impressive in 2004. And yet, Dell Reconnect is as current and progressive as ever.

computer recycling

Dell Reconnect has been recycling computers for a decade. From Samuel Mann.

Dell Reconnect is actually a joint effort between Dell and Goodwill. It started small. Some forward-thinking folks at Dell identified a need for a safe place for people to bring computers that they no longer wanted. Dell partnered with Goodwill Industries of Central Texas to offer a drop-off spot. They didn’t put any restrictions on the type of computers that would be accepted, meaning that Dell happily accepted competitors’ products. They promised to responsibly dispose of the equipment.

Beth Johnson, Dell’s manager of U.S. recycling programs, says that no one knew where the program would go when it started. She describes the partnership with Goodwill as a “leap of faith.”

That leap paid off.

Since those early days, the Dell Reconnect program has expanded dramatically. It’s now available in 44 states, with more than 2,000 participating Goodwill sites. To date, they have recycled more than 374 million pounds of unwanted electronics.

Why is this such a big deal? We’ve written before about the obstacles involved in recycling electronics—it’s rarely convenient and people are hardly motivated to go out of their way to dispose of old computer equipment responsibly. And yet, part of that rapid technological evolution means that we churn through electronics at an extraordinary rate, and when they’re disposed of improperly and end up in landfills, they can leach harmful chemicals into the ground.

Part of the reason electronics recycling is so cumbersome is that—without programs such as Dell Reconnect—opportunities to safely dispose of computer equipment are few and far between. Many municipalities only electronics recycling one day per year. If you miss it, you have to wait until next year. That was the case in Knoxville, Tennessee, before Dell Reconnect came to town. You used to have to wait “three to four hours” in line to recycle your electronics, says Liz Nother, CEO of Goodwill Industries—Knoxville. Now that Dell Reconnect is in town, residents can drop off equipment whenever Goodwill is open.

Both Dell and Goodwill thought that a decade of partnership was worth celebrating. That’s why, on a recent evening, they got together and threw a party to mark ten years of Dell Reconnect. (We hope they used reusable or compostable party plates!)

Category: Electronics

About the Author ()

Ellen Hunter Gans has been writing for RecycleReminders since the blog’s inception. She is passionate about words, new media and, of course, recycling.

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