Dell recently announced that it would offer free recycling of any of its machines, regardless of whether their owners were buying replacement systems from Dell. Previously, consumers needed to buy new Dell equipment to qualify for free recycling, a requirement that remains the practice for many other leading computer companies. "Dell's new program sets the bar high," said Kate Krebs, executive director of the National Recycling Coalition in Washington. With the new program, consumers will go to Dell's Web site (see this page) to print out a mailing label, then contact the company's recycling office to schedule a pickup by a local recycling contractor. Hewlett-Packard, Apple Computer and other companies have introduced less ambitious programs to encourage the recycling of obsolete equipment. Hewlett-Packard's program accepts computers made by any manufacturer, but consumers must pay for shipping, about $35 for a complete computer system. They then receive a coupon typically worth more than the shipping fee that they can use to buy Hewlett-Packard equipment or supplies like printer cartridges, said John Frey, manager of the corporate environmental strategies program.
Hewlett-Packard says it recycled 140 million pounds of hardware and printer cartridges last year, an increase of 17 percent from 2004.Apple announced in April that it would offer free recycling of old computers to customers who buy new ones, but consumers not buying a replacement must pay a $30 shipping fee. Apple offers free recycling of iPod music players to customers buying replacement iPods, and a 10 percent discount on the new device.