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Turning Toxic Waste Into Technology Assets

An estimated 30 to 50 million tons of electronics are trashed every year globally. In America, this produces 70% of all toxic waste, caused by lead, cadmium, beryllium, and other dangerous metals. Electronics that become toxic waste could be used by schools, relief organizations, and non-profits in need all over the world. InterConnection, a recent partner with the Connected Community Engagement Program, works to fix both problems with safe electronics recycling and refurbishment.

President Charles Brennick started InterConnection in 1999. “The mission has always been to provide technology to underserved communities,” said Brennick. “We can receive equipment from any individual or business in the U.S.” Partner organizations like Microsoft provide valuable software while organizations like Nintendo, Century Link, and many others provide hardware. Individuals can also mail in devices with a pre-paid mailing slip provided by InterConnection.

All original data on the devices is wiped and the devices are refurbished. Refurbished devices can be purchased with a one-year warranty at InterConnection's online store or storefront in Seattle. A refurbished computer can be purchased for as low as $90, while comparable refurbished or new devices are twice or three times as much elsewhere.

InterConnection has also partnered with TechSoup, the leading technology distributor to nonprofit organizations. TechSoup provides valuable technology assets to over 690,000 non-profits, including global and domestic organizations that fight hunger, build homes, teach children, fight disease, and more.

Some devices are sold or donated to organizations that provide aid in disaster zones, becoming an integral part of vital communicative networks. Other computers become part of libraries, schools, or community centers, reducing set-up costs by 70%. Refurbished devices also reach areas in need through grant projects InterConnection awards four times a year.

“If you don't have the Internet or a computer, there are so many social services, educational resources, and job opportunities that are online that you are missing,” said Brennick. “If you aren't connected, you're on an isolated island.”

If a device or component cannot be refurbished, it is safely recycled and disposed of. InterConnection was the first nonprofit in the U.S. to gain R2 (Responsible Recycling) and ISO14001 certification status, meaning the toxic materials are safely eliminated at every stage and all original data is completely destroyed.

InterConnection will arrange pick-up for businesses or organizations with 10 or more devices and individuals can mail in their old devices safely for free. This cuts down the largest source of toxic waste in America while simultaneously providing invaluable opportunities to those in need.

“We always need donations,” said Brennick. “We can't provide computers if we don't have any.”

Learn how to donate old electronics to Interconnection, buy through the online store or buy for a non-profit group. See how Connected Nation's partner organizations are changing lives through technology every day on the Connected Community Engagement website