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Computer monitors must now be recycled, new MIT policy states

A new state law that went into effect April 1 means that MIT can no longer dispose of computer monitors with its regular trash.

Massachusetts is the first state in the US to mandate that cathode ray tubes, like those in computer monitors and TV sets, must be reused or recycled rather than going into landfills or incinerators.

The major reason for making this electronic trash illegal is to keep the toxic metals that the devices contain from leaching from landfills into ground water or being released into the air when trash is burned. MIT's program to comply with the new law involves hiring an outside contractor to pick up and recycle old monitors.

The lead in the old monitors will be reused, other metals will be recycled, and the plastic housing will be shredded and made into a special material for filling potholes. On average, MIT offices and labs dispose of about 50 old monitors per month.

To partially cover the cost of compliance with the law, MIT offices, labs and centers will be asked to submit a requisition for disposal of a monitor. The cost is $15 if the monitor is brought to the loading dock in either Building E19 or Building 3 from 9am-4pm on weekdays, and $32 if an area prefers to have the Department of Facilities pick up the monitor. The phone number for having a monitor picked up is x3-6350. There is no additional charge for disposing of a computer's central processing unit or keyboard.

Those wishing to discard equipment with a Property Office sticker must first get the sticker deactivated. Contact Michael McCarthy, property disposal officer, at x3-2779 or send e-mail to

An alternative to disposal may be recycling within MIT. If you have somewhat older computer equipment that is in good working condition, contact Mr. McCarthy. He will determine whether another MIT area might be able to use the equipment.

Questions about the new disposal policy may be directed to Austin Petzke, manager of Facilities' Building and Grounds Services, at, or to Kevin Healy, recycling coordinator in Facilities, at

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on April 12, 2000.

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