Free Geek works to reuse as much donated technology as possible
Sustainable reuse of technology is at the heart of Free Geek’s mission.
Our primary focus is taking donated computers, parts, peripherals, and other devices; testing and repairing what we can; and making them available for reuse in our Community Programs. Staff and volunteers at Free Geek securely wipe data-bearing devices, and test and rebuild them into fully-functioning machines.
There are multiple ways we are able to breathe new life into your gently used but capable technology. We have a dedicated secure data area for destroying personal data, as well as areas for desktop, laptop, and Mac refurbishment, hardware testing for components and peripherals, audio/visual equipment, and mobile device refurbishment.
Computers are earned by volunteers in exchange for community service hours. A variety of computers and other devices are granted to nonprofits and community change organizations, or sold to the community for affordable prices at The Free Geek Store.
Free Geek proudly utilizes open-source as well as licensed software. Currently our desktops and laptops are refurbished with Linux Mint and our Macs run MacOS. Free Geek is now a Microsoft Registered Refurbisher and is in the process of preparing to be able to offer Microsoft Windows on some of our machines.
Anything that can’t be reused is ethically recycled
Items that Free Geek can’t reuse, refurbish, or send to one of our carefully selected reuse partners are passed on to our recycling department. It’s there that staff and volunteers disassemble devices into recyclable components such as steel, plastic, and insulated copper wire. Other items, such as gold bearing circuit boards and monitors, are shipped to recycling partners, which we verify are handling the materials in an environmentally-responsible manner.
How we choose our recyclers
Free Geek regularly turns down potential e-waste buyers who offer high prices but can’t demonstrate and document the highest standards of responsible recycling all the way through the smelting process.
We are committed to a strict vendor selection program which requires that we only work with facilities that enforce strict tracking of potentially toxic focus materials to the end of the recycling chain. The facilities we work with are able to document legal compliance and high standards for protecting human health and the environment.
Free Geek’s downstream vendors must meet strict criteria
Free Geek’s high ethical recycling standards require that e-waste vendors conform to:
- Our Focus Material Management Plan, which prohibits energy recovery, incineration, and land disposal of Focus Materials
- A documented system to manage environmental, health and safety risks, and legal requirements
- Compliance with all applicable environmental, legal, health and safety requirements
- Maintenance of a list of environmental permits and the ability to provide copies of each
- Complete documentation of the flow of all Focus Materials down the recycling chain
- Allowing Free Geek to confirm compliance with each of its downstream vendors, establishing that every vendor down the recycling chain meets our strict vendor selection requirements
In addition, we are audited annually by a third party to ensure that our downstream due diligence process, Environmental, Health and Safety Management Systems (EHSMS), and legal compliance are consistent with Oregon e-Cycles Environmental Management Practices.
The EPA estimates that only 27% of e-waste is recycled nationally. With your help, we can do better.