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Old computers get new lives

October 02, 2006|by ERIN CUNNINGHAM

HAGERSTOWN - Washington County Public Schools has recycled more than 42 tons of broken or outdated computer equipment this year.

And the project isn't done yet.

The school system has been stashing computers in storage areas, offices, classrooms, hallways and closets for years. Over the past several months, the Hagerstown franchise of 1-800-GOT-JUNK? worked with a Pennsylvania company to collect and recycle the computers, monitors and other equipment, said Charles W. McClister III, franchise partner.

The company was contacted by the school system in February.

He said the computers were recycled through Com Cycle Inc. in Allentown, Pa., a company that has a zero landfill policy and recycles every piece of each computer.

"The last thing we ever want to do is take something to the landfill," said Toni Koenigsberg, sales and marketing manager for 1-800-GOT-JUNK?.

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Parts made from metal or plastic could be used to make new computers, and smaller parts might have been taken from one computer and put into another to make it work.

"We support recycling as opposed to anything else," said Arnold Hammann, director of information management and instructional technology for the school system. "And this company gave us guaranteed certificates for the computers that verify that the hard drives were wiped clean."

Hammann said the computers taken away by 1-800-GOT-JUNK? were close to 10 years old.

"They were just eating up a lot of storage and people didn't know what to do with (the computers)," he said. "We've emptied out closets that have been full of stuff for a number of years. There just wasn't a process in place to correctly get rid of these things."

1-800-GOT-JUNK? most likely will be collecting computer equipment from six more schools this year, Hammann said.

"We probably have another tractor-trailer load yet," he said.

McClister said the school system's old computers already have filled several 53-foot tractor-trailers.

Hammann said the company was able to give the school system the best price for the job.

It has cost about $15,000, but McClister said that is at least $60,000 less than other companies would have charged because they were able to use Com Cycle's vehicles and avoid pricey surcharges.

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