Dell Reconnect Computer Recycling Program Turns 10 Years Old
A half-chocolate, half-vanilla cake from Sweetish Hill Bakery celebrates Dell Reconnect’s 10th anniversary.
Over a barbecue dinner of fried okra, warm potato salad, brisket and chicken, Dell and Goodwill came together in Austin, Texas, to celebrate the 10-year anniversary of the Dell Reconnect program, a partnership they created to responsibly recycle computers.
Guests dig into Texas barbecue at the Dell Reconnect 10th anniversary party in Austin.
Dell Reconnect began in 2004 when Dell partnered with Goodwill Industries of Central Texas to offer computer recycling of any brand and in any condition to consumers within Goodwill stores. The idea was for people to always have a convenient and safe place to drop off their old computers that ensures their equipment is responsibly disposed of at no cost, and with no restriction on type of computer. Now, Morgan Memorial Goodwill Industries, based in Boston, has most recently signed up, bringing the total to approximately 100 partners in 44 states across the country. All together, there are more than 2,000 participating Goodwill donation sites where consumers can bring their old computers when they no longer want them.
A Needed Service
Before Dell Reconnect came to Goodwill Industries–Knoxville Inc., locals only had one opportunity a year to recycle. “The line was three to four hours long,” says Liz Nother, CEO of Goodwill Industries–Knoxville. “We knew anything we could do to alleviate that would be helpful.”
Since Knoxville began hosting the Dell Reconnect program in 2009, the city and county have stopped holding that one-day recycling event, as it’s no longer needed and allows their community to conveniently drop off their old equipment at any time along with the regular household goods they donate throughout the year. “It’s great to know computers aren’t going into the landfill — not everyone was able to recycle that one day a year,” Nother says.
While Houston had more opportunities for people to discard old electronics, the program has been so popular in the past eight years that they’re planning to expand and move to a bigger location.
Steve Lufburrow, president/CEO of Goodwill Industries of Houston, praises Dell’s commitment to take any brand of computer. “They have spread not only through Texas but 90-some-odd places throughout the country,” he says. “It’s a win-win. It makes our donor feel confident [in the recycling process] that Dell’s involved.”
A Sense of Security
That confidence donors have isn’t misplaced — Dell makes sure each step of the process is done in an environmentally responsible way.
“The partnership is about as powerful as you can get in regard to recycling,” says Sam Schmitz, president of Goodwill Industries of Northern Illinois and Wisconsin Stateline, noting that non-working equipment is never sent overseas to end up in a landfill.
Goodwill Industries of San Diego County has hosted Dell Reconnect for 10 years, almost since the very beginning. Partnering with a company they could trust was a big factor in deciding to offer the program. “Auditors come by to check to make sure things are right,” says Mike Rowan, CEO of Goodwill of San Diego. “That third-party accountability is important.”
Before Dell Reconnect began, they often couldn’t sell computer parts they received through donations because they didn’t have anyone with the technical knowledge to make those parts working again. Now, they have a team that refurbishes computers, offering good-as-new machines to consumers at reasonable prices.
The Next 10 Years
When the Dell Reconnect program began in 2004, no one knew exactly where it would go. “We were testing in the early days and learning as we went along,” says Beth Johnson, manager of U.S. recycling programs for Dell. “It was a leap of faith we took with each other.”
That leap landed them on solid ground, with more than 374 million pounds of used electronics recycled since the inception. Moving forward, they hope to raise more awareness about the program and participation within the program.
The Denny Herrin Band provides musical entertainment at the Dell Reconnect 10th anniversary party.
The night ended with dancing to the Denny Herrin Band, plenty of celebratory cake from Sweetish Hill Bakery, and scoops of the famous Mexican Vanilla from Amy’s Ice Creams — as well as a commitment to continue expanding computer recycling across North America.
“We’re celebrating a relationship,” Johnson says. “We’re proud of how far we’ve come, yet we’re still looking ahead. We’re going to support the program with as much rigor and vigor as we did the first 10 years.”