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Guidelines for the Purchase and Disposal of Personal Computers

By Erika Mantz, Media Relations
April 18, 2007

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: UNH disposed of more than 300,000 pounds of waste electronics, mostly personal computers, from 2003-2006, with over 75,000 pounds in 2006 alone.

Here are some helpful tips for purchasing a new computer and disposing the old one to make the process easier and to minimize the impact to the environment.

Purchasing tips:

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

The 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 http://www.utc.unh.edu/. In an effort to provide effective and efficient customer service, 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 laptop computer. Since laptop 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. Laptops 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 an old monitor with a new CPU. If the old monitor is still in working order, keep it. (Be sure it will function well with the new CPU and last as long. Monitors purchased separately are more expensive than when bundled with CPUs.)

Disposal tips

When it’s time to get rid of an old UNH personal computer and related items, start with your BSC manager. 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 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 include:

1.) Transfer and reuse within 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 the Office of Environmental Health and Safety (OEHS). 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 OEHS. OEHS will arrange a pick up with the person-requesting disposal. OEHS 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, CIS will do this on a fee-for-service basis. In order to better serve the campus computing community, the Customer Service Counter for the CIS Computer Service Center relocated from Hewitt Hall Annex to the MUB. The location is on the second floor (Food Court level, next to Granite Square Station mailboxes). All computers needing service should be dropped off and picked up at this location. Hours are Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. For your convenience, the CSC offers free pickup and delivery, running daily to university colleges and departments. NOTE: Pickup and delivery service is not available to students (see http://www.unh.edu/tech-services/csc/software.html).

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