There's more to recycling than bundling up newspapers and returning bottles. At MIT, all electronic equipment - from computers and printers to cell phones and lab equipment - is recyclable.
Just don't dump that old computer out in the stairwell. Not only is it necessary to contact Facilities for pickup - you could be opening the door to data theft.
The proper disposal of surplus computer hardware is often a forgotten component in data security programs, according to Scott Conti, the assistant director for network operations at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. Conti gave a talk at MIT last month titled "Surplus Computer Hardware - Forgotten But Not Gone: Recycling, Reusing and Data Security."
Reformatting a hard drive will not actually remove the data, and old data can be recovered with very little effort. Therefore, Conti recommended three utilities that can be downloaded and written to a CD, which can then be used to boot the computer and wipe the disk: dban.sourceforge.net, www.killdisk.com and www.heidi.ie/eraser/download.php.
Conti's lecture was sponsored by the MIT Working Group Recycling Committee, a group dedicated to developing and delivering programs that educate staff about recycling, reducing and reusing goods. In 1999, when the committee was started, only 5 percent of the Institute's waste was recycled annually. By the summer of 2005, the amount of waste recycled on the MIT campus was up to 36 percent of the total waste generated.
Not only computers but also tapes, disks and all sorts of portable electronics may be recycled. Look for one of three Technotrash bins on campus. These bins accept printer cartridges, CDs, DVDs, cell phones, rechargeable batteries, iPods, laptop computers and much more.
Bins are located in the Student Center near the British phonebooth; in the Stata Center's Dreyfoos lobby near the elevators; and in Video Productions on the fourth floor of Building 9.
For more information on recycling at MIT, visit http://web.mit.edu/facilities/environmental/reuse.html.