Green Grafton Committee


Computer Recycling at Tufts

In April of 2000 the state of Massachusetts took steps to protect our environment from the possibility of greater contamination by enacting a law making it illegal to dispose of computer and related equipment in regular trash disposal. Computers have a number of potential hazards that could be detrimental to the environment, including lead in video display terminals, and many electronic components.

Even before this law was in place Tufts University had taken steps to protect the environment. Many computers that were no longer useful at the university were donated to needy organizations. Employees were sometimes allowed to purchase dated equipment at a discounted cost. Both of these programs are still in place. One problem still remained, what to do with computers, monitors and keyboards that no longer were of use to anyone. On each campus a location was identified to store this equipment.

With the enactment of the new law a number of company's were started to meet the needs of this waste stream. After consultation with a number of sources, a company, C.B. International Limited, from Whitman, Mass was recommended as a possible source to dispose of this equipment in an environmentally safe and cost efficient way. I met with a company executive and toured the facility located in an old shoe factory in Whitman. The computers can be 100% recycled. The lead, which presents the greatest risk to the environment is smelted. All other components are either broken down and reused or if still in good working order are donated to needy groups. At the time I made the tour, a very large number computers, still in working order, were about to be shipped to an underdeveloped country in South America to be used for classroom education.

This past January, Tufts had C.B. International pick up the first group of computers on all 3 campuses. The initial pick up was limited in scope due to the large amount of used equipment already in storage. Beginning in the fall, pick-ups will probably be held twice a year. A campus wide announcement will be made and Facilities will assist in getting the equipment to a central storage location. A pickup was carried out on November 14th, 2001.

Peter Nowak
Industrial Hygiene Environmental Health Specialist
Tufts University

Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University
Department of Population and Environmental Health
Tufts Center for Conservation Medicine
Bernice Barbour Wildlife Medicine Building
200 Westboro Rd., North Grafton, MA 01536
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