Monday, November 22, 2010

Where to Recycle Your Laptop

My 7-year-old Mac PowerBook — the one with the pink-snowy screen effects and the 8-minute battery life — had been sitting around the apartment since I replaced it last May.  I had removed as much personal data and software as I could; it was high time for us to part.

I knew I could recycle it at Staples, but not at their store in Back Bay, even though their website says:

Bring your old computers, monitors, laptops, printers, faxes and all-in-ones to any Staples® U.S. store and drop them off at the customer service desk. All brands are accepted for secure recycling, regardless of where they were purchased.

Apparently, our Boylston Street store isn't a "store." It's a "copy and print shop," even though we buy all of our supplies there. Staples at Landmark Center or in the financial district would recycle my laptop for $10, if I weren't too lazy to walk it all the way over there.

Instead I took my laptop to the Apple Store, to see what they might suggest. They don't accept equipment for recycling at the stores. Apple has a mail-only recycling program. (Mail? Seriously, Mr. Jobs? How quaint and old-fashioned!) You fill out an online form, print a label, pack up your equipment, and ship it off somewhere. If your equipment is worth anything, they'll send you an Apple gift card for the value. (Mine was worth 0). They'll even send you a shipping box. But I am incredibly lazy and impatient, and all that rigamarole seemed like too much trouble. I wanted to get rid of my laptop right now. Would I have to abandon it to the recycling truck in the alley?

The Apple folks sent me and my laptop to Tech SuperPowers, around the corner from them on Newbury Street. They do recycle laptops, but they charge $49 for the privilege. The alley was looking ever more attractive.

On a whim, I went to Best Buy. I usually have to be dragged forcibly into that store; it was an entirely uncharacteristic whim. Best Buy is always loud and hectic, and their fluorescent lights and ugly decor are known to cause headaches. Sure enough, as I approached their door, I was assailed by a deafening blast of some heavy-metal tune pouring from their outdoor speakers. I can only assume that they've hired a 19-year-old as the store manager. But that would be fine as long as I walked out of there without my computer.

A friendly security guard inside the door told me that recycling a laptop would be no problem as he stuck a green "recycle" sticker on the lid. He directed me to the Geek Squad counter at the back of the store where two ladies tried and failed to remove the laptop's hard drive — they don't take responsibility for hard drives. Even so, they took the whole thing for recycling anyway.

And it was free. They have the sanest, most helpful recycling program I've found.  Check out their policies and encourage your fellow man to take old electronics there instead of dumping them in our alleys and landfills.

1 comment:

  1. Gazelle.com is also a great place to recycle for free! Check it out if you're in this situation again.

    You do have to mail it, but they pay for the shipping, so it's not such a bad deal.

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