What Would You Do With 10,000 Used Computers?

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This topic contains 17 replies, has 11 voices, and was last updated by  Eileen Kent 8 years, 7 months ago.

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  • #144339

    I just saw this tweet and thought it would make an interesting conversation:

    Half a million computers each year…going where?

    Wipe the data off and ship to developing nations?

    Take apart and sell individual components?

    Send to non-profits?

    What would you do?

  • #144373

    Eileen Kent

    I just met with a great new company called Green Delete out of Chicago. You might want to see how they do it. Brand new!

    Here’s his info. Tell him Eileen Kent Sent Ya!

    Peter J. Ganzel

    Vice-President of Human Resources

    [email protected]



  • #144371

    Denise Petet

    I think the biggest thing is making sure they get where you’re meaning them to go. In other words, if you’re going to ship them to Thailand for an orphanage…you do it in a way that you know it gets where it’s going. Anymore, so many charities have such a massive amount of ‘administrative’ personnel that a good chunk of the money/material donated just vanishes and never reaches its intended recipients.

    but….school computer labs, battered women shelters, group homes, old age homes (some might like to learn how to play), homeless shelters, the local library.

    Now some of them will be junk. Half the computers we surplus are 10+ years old and were surplused for a reason. So you’ll need to think of a way to handle the junk…which can be the take apart option.Strip it down to parts.

  • #144369

    Rolandus Branch

    I think this is a very interesting topic! I think we have enough schools right here in the ol’ U. S. of A. that don’t have computers. To me, that’s a shame! I think those computers could be wiped clean of all old data, upgraded with the newest versions of MS, and shipped to those schools. It may take a little effort to find those schools, but I think it’s worth that effort. If we invest in our children, they will in turn meet the challenges of this great nation one day. On the flip side, if we don’t invest in our children, they will meet a world that is moving at the speed of light, while they are crawling at the speed of snail.

  • #144367

    Peter Sperry

    Only half are more than 10 years old? It has been my observation that by the time most government computers become surplus, they are not worth what it would cost to haul them away. Also, almost all of them are wiped clean to NIST standards before being released to surplus, which means no operating sysem or even system directory in RAM. It would cost less to buy schools new computers than try to reload usable software on most of these antiques.

  • #144365

    I would donate them to the elementary, middle and high schools here in the US, especially the ones that really need them to better educate our young people.

  • #144363

    Ruth Collins

    I agree that many schools could really use these. Today, a great number of schools use computers and if they were able to allow more students access more often, that would be beneficial for our children. I’m sure that it would not be that difficult to prepare them for the schools as you mentioned in your reply.

  • #144361

    Denise Petet

    Some are junk, yes. But with the ones that aren’t, what if you pulled the harddrive, sterlized that to your agency’s standards and gave the schools the box, keyboard, mouse, monitor, etc. For the cost of a harddrive they could get a ‘new’ computer. You keep your agency’s data safe, schools get equipment they can use.

    and if you have a computer that is broken and junk, then it’s handled differently. You follow the procedures to throw it away/recycle it.

    Maybe there’s a votech school in your area whose students can be the labor to rehab the computers and then there can be a private partner to supply the harddrives – with the requisite stickers/id noting those that contribute. A public/private partnership to repurpose surplused computers to schools that need them.

  • #144359

    Valerie Kushnerov

    I would check with the schools first. Some of our schools have better computers than our government offices. However, our community also has a great program called Computers for Families which takes used computers and has the Los Prietos Boys Camp (kids who’ve been in trouble with the law) rehab them. Every family of a fourth grader in our school system has access to one of these computers for free (with low cost internet access). Check it out here: http://www.sbceo.org/~sbceocff/


  • #144357

    Mark Hammer

    I actually used to shop at a place near me that received pallets and pallets of older machines on a daily basis, and recycled the parts to those trying to keep their machines alive, or simply rendered them. Truly weird to see a pallet of a few hundred Mac Classics up to my shoulders, shrink-wrapped.

    At one point, they DID buy older machines from people, for a song of course, and sell off the parts. And you could buy older hard drives, video cards, power supplies, monitors, CPUs, etc. from them. Eventually, though, they stopped selling things and started charging people to bring their machines in. All the 17″ and 19″ monitors that people had given me, and had accumulated in my basement “because you’re into computers, right?” cost me $120 to get rid of because the same place was now charging by the pound instead of buying. They make money on relieving you of your stuff, and on the gold obtained from rendering things.

    However, as components got smaller, and more things were stuffed onto a mobo, rather than having a socket with gold contacts into which boards with a gold edge connector were plugged, there was less and less to recover from used components. So I imagine the fee you pay now is simply for rendering the technology environmentally harmless, and very little is actually recovered from it, apart from maybe some copper.

    If you ever bring your cast-off gear to one of those “electronics recycling” days that your municipality might have a few times a year, it is truly discouraging to see how much stuff we abandon as a result of our impatience and our obsession with the new.

  • #144355

    Bill Brantley

    10,000 used computers + BOINC = Saving the World

  • #144353

    Sunni M.

    The votech idea is great! My high school in Pittsburgh (Schenley) used to have a great high tech program that trained students for high tech careers. I am sure the students could have used more material for their projects!

  • #144351

    Sunni M.

    This actually sounds ripe for a Challenge under the America COMPETES legislation. Use Challenge.gov to get citizens to think of creative ways to reuse surplus machines to improve the economy. It could be for training, for re-use, etc. Who knows what people would come up with! The prize wouldnt have to be large, either. There could be levels of prizes or maybe even just recognition…

  • #144349

    I just invited Peter to respond! Thanks, Eileen!

  • #144347

    I forgot to mention that I worked at a high school ten years ago and the IT guy (one part IT for the school, one part teacher) who use to work in the intelligence community was taking old government surplus computers and turning them into thin clients…basically nothing on the computers themselves, just running them as units that talk to a central server farm where all the software was loaded…early cloud computing and very affordable for the school. We all used a Citrix connection, which also enabled me to do some experimenting with telework since I could work from anywhere and have access to my files and programs.

  • #144345

    How do we seed this on Challenge.gov, Sunni? Which agency takes the lead? GSA?

  • #144343

    Sunni M.

    An agency would need to take the lead. I would think GSA would be perfect since they deal with property, etc… They would need to develop the challenge (goal, prizes).

    There is a Challenge Listserv at [email protected]. Karen Trebon is the Deputy Program Manager for Challenges at GSA. Her email is [email protected].

  • #144341

    Eileen Kent

    I talked to him, so he should be in this discussion pretty soon…..Their big concern is making sure the hard drive is clean, clean, clean! The recycling part, I’m not sure of, but this company is made up of some pretty outstanding executives from the commercial marketplace, so I imagine they’re going to be a contender in this marketplace pretty quickly. Great subject! Eileen

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