University of New Hampshire
Guidelines for the Purchase and Disposal of Personal Computers
Time to buy a new computer? Wondering what to do with your old computer?

With the ever-increasing rate of advancement in technology, personal computers are being replaced on a regular basis. As a result, discarded computers are one of the fastest growing waste streams: the University of New Hampshire disposed of over 50,000 pounds of waste electronics, mostly personal computers, in 2004 alone. Here are some helpful tips for purchasing your new computer and disposing of your old computer to make the process easy for you and to minimize the impact to the environment.

Purchasing tips

When purchasing a personal computer, you should consider functionality (ability to meet your needs), cost, and the impact on the electronic waste stream.

The UNH Computer Store provides the University community with access to the highest quality, standardized, mainstream microcomputer products and services at the lowest possible prices. For additional information, visit their website at http://www.utc.unh.edu/. In an effort to provide effective and efficient customer service to the University community, Computing & Information Services (CIS) maintains a list of products for which it provides support. Visit the supported products website at http://www.unh.edu/cis/supported-products/.

Options that will minimize the impact on the electronic waste stream:

• Purchase a flat screen display (monitor). Traditional monitors (CRTs or cathode ray tubes) contain a considerable amount of lead. Because of the lead content, CRTs are toxic and must be sent to a hazardous waste disposal facility. Flat screen monitors (LCD display) employ a completely different technology, which makes the monitor use less power than a CRT. They do not contain lead so are less toxic and cheaper to dispose.

• Purchase a lap top computer. Since lap top computers are so much smaller and lighter than a traditional monitor and CPU combination, they contain fewer hazardous constituents and are less expensive to dispose of when no longer usable. Lap tops use an LCD display.

• Purchase a small form factor. Small form factors are compact versions of traditional CPUs. They take up far less space than a traditional CPU and use less energy. Their compact size also means there is less circuitry with less of the hazardous materials. (Small form factors are less upgradeable, so be sure your needs will be met.)

• Reuse your old monitor with your new CPU. If your old monitor is still in working order, keep it when you replace your CPU. (Be sure it will function well with your new CPU and last as long. Monitors purchased separately are more expensive than when bundled with CPUs.)

Disposal tips

When you need to get rid of your old UNH personal computer and related items, you should start with your BSC manager (or designee). He/she will let you know who handles this for your department/college. The BSC manager (or designee) will need a description of the property, the value and/or condition of the property, if it has a USNH property control tag (bar code), and whether it was purchased with grant funds. The BSC manager (or designee) will work with UNH/USNH Purchasing via their website for proper disposal of the property. The link to Purchasing’s website about surplus property is http://www.unh.edu/purchasing/surplus/index.html

Options for items in good working condition (which you’ll find at the website) include:

1.) Transfer and reuse within your department or school/college.
2.) Transfer for reuse elsewhere in UNH/USNH.
3.) Sale or donation.

If the computer and/or related items do not work or are unwanted, they will have to be scrapped and disposed. Computers and other electronics are regulated by the State of New Hampshire because they contain hazardous components, so must be managed properly by Environmental Health and Safety (EHS). Purchasing first needs to approve disposal/scrapping of property. To submit your request to scrap an item(s), simply go to Purchasing’s website (see above) and you will find a Scrap Option. Follow the instructions and your request will be submitted electronically to Purchasing. After your request is approved, Purchasing will notify EHS. EHS will arrange a pick up with the person requesting disposal. EHS will move the computer to a central storage area on campus, where it will be prepared for shipment to a UNH-approved recycling and disposal facility.

Whether the computer is destined for reuse or disposal, all files and software must be erased prior to being transferred. This is the responsibility of you as the "owner" of the equipment. Your department/college may have information technology staff available to assist you in the proper procedure for removing any software and information on your CPU that pertains to University operations. In addition, Computing and Information Services (CIS) will do this on a fee-for-service basis at the Computer Service Center Software Lab in Hewitt Annex or the MUB Drop Off & Pickup location (see http://www.unh.edu/tech-services/csc/software.html).

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