Recycling that old personal computer

About 20 million new computers will appear under Christmas trees this month - many aimed at replacing older models bound for the junk heap.

Fewer than 10 percent of home computers are now recycled, and more than 300 million of them will become obsolete in the next three years, clogging landfills, according to the nonprofit Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition (SVTC) in San Jose, Calif. To counter the trend, SVTC is working with the Portsmouth, N.H.-based Pax World Fund Family on a computer-recycling plan. They offer these tips:

Stop thinking of your old computer as "junk." Thousands of schools and other groups can get much good use out of your unwanted PC.

Encourage computer manufacturers to adopt take-back programs. Contact manufacturers to find out if you can return an old computer for recycling. You can find and send an e-mail form letter by going to the "Clean Computer Campaign" page at www.SVTC.org.

Dispose with great caution. Don't open your PC on your own. In addition to hazardous materials, even unplugged PCs hold an electric charge.

To find local computer-recycling options, go to www.800Cleanup.org (or look up "Recycling Services" in the Yellow Pages). To donate a PC, try www.ShareTechnology.org or www.UsedComputer.com.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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