Free Geek is currently open to the public in limited capacity.

We're more than "just" an electronics recycler.

Do you ever wonder what happens to your stuff after you donate it to Free Geek?

Free Geek is more than “just” an electronics recycler. Our goal is to extend the life of technology as far as possible, and in doing so, reduce the amount of electronic waste or “e-waste” generated by our community. Electronic waste creates a unique problem for the 21st century as people often upgrade and irresponsibly dispose of their “out-of-date” items. In 2014, the United States generated over 11.4 million tons of e-waste, much of which fills landfills with hazardous materials and threatens human and environmental health.

E-Waste Recycling in Warehouse

Do you ever wonder what happens to your stuff after you donate it to Free Geek?

Read on to get a glimpse into our process!

First thing’s first: we completely destroy any data that might be on your device using National Association for Information Destruction (NAID) data sanitization standards. Then, we test everything for functionality. Computers and mobile devices found to be in working order that meet our specifications are then thoroughly refurbished; we install a free, open-source operating system as well as programs that meet our community’s standards and needs. These devices and other working items like (but not limited to!) keyboards, cables, printers, and monitors, are used in all of our programs-- sold in the store at low cost, granted to community organizations, given to volunteers and students in need of digital access, and more. Computers we give, grant, or sell come with tech support from our knowledgeable staff, too.

Have a device that is old or broken? Don’t let that stop you from bringing it in! When you bring us your tech, anything that doesn’t work or is too old to support modern software is still wiped, then sorted, disassembled, and recycled in the most environmentally safe and ethical way. Volunteers learn about computers from the inside out by breaking items down into more basic, recyclable materials like metals, plastic, and wires. We work only with downstream refurbishers and materials recyclers who have high standards of environmental safety.

"Free Geek recycles otherwise toxic and wasteful electronics safely and efficiently, at the same time giving volunteers an excellent way to contribute to the community.  Further, the restored computers can get to people who need them (free or at reduced cost, and with training for using them), helping to raise digital awareness in general and to reduce the 'digital divide.'" - Jim S, Volunteer

Free Geek is a proud participant in the Oregon E-Cycles program, which guarantees efficient and convenient recycling of e-waste. In 2018, almost 30% of all the items in the Oregon E-Cycles program came through Free Geek’s doors! Last year we received 1,350,000 pounds of e-waste; we recycled 924,718 pounds of those donations, and gave away 1,288 completely refurbished computers-- a significant increase from 2017.

The items you bring us make a huge difference. Our mission to sustainably reuse technology and enable digital access is driven by your donations and the inclusive community of volunteers who give tens of thousands of hours each year to recycling and refurbishing donated tech. Because of the growing number of donated laptops, for example, we met a huge goal for the Free Geek community: we were able in November of 2018 to begin offering volunteers a choice between taking home a refurbished desktop OR a laptop computer after their 24 hours of volunteer time-- before this, there had been no easily-portable option.

Unfortunately, we still have a lot of work to do. Even if we did nothing but refurbish computers and give them away-- it would still take us years to generate the number of computers necessary to make sure everyone in the city limits of Portland is connected. That’s over 300,000 people!

We’ve accomplished a lot, and we wouldn’t be able to do that without your tech donations. Together we are able to help minimize the long-term environmental impact of the ever-booming tech industry and get computers into the hands of people who are otherwise left out of the digital world. To all our tech donors: thank you for helping us continue to make lasting change in our community!

Never donated before? Check out how to get rid of that dusty box of electronics here.