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Inside Iowa State, a newspaper for faculty and staff, is published by the Office of University Relations.

July 19, 2007

That's A LOT of old computers

by Anne Krapfl

Campus response to a free computer recycling offer last month by the Apple computer company will fill about two and a half semitrailers.

Mike Ludwig

ISU Surplus supervisor Mark Ludwig with about half of the 59 pallets of computer-related equipment the university will recycle through the Apple Corp.Photo by Bob Elbert.

ISU offices and departments cleaned their respective "houses" of old monitors, printers, scanners and keyboards of any brand, as well as related items such as TVs or fax machines. When sorted, stacked and wrapped as requested by Apple, it amounted to 59 pallets of equipment. In a national program offered to all accredited K-12 and higher education institutions, the Apple Corp. will haul away and recycle the equipment using environmentally acceptable methods.

Another 15 pallets of central processing units (CPUs) were turned in, but will not be part of the Apple recycling effort. The hard drives will be cleaned, a standard procedure at Iowa State. Some likely will make it into the ISU Surplus sales warehouse; others will be recycled by the university.

"It was a huge success," said Norm Hill, Central Stores manager, who said he was hoping to fill 1.5 to 2 semitrailers. "We did in 10 to 12 days what it typically might take us six to eight months to do."

The campus window of opportunity ran June 11-28. Apple will send the first truck to campus for a pickup on July 26.

ISU Surplus supervisor Mark Ludwig said the free offer from Apple saved Iowa State several thousand dollars in recycling fees, based on what it would cost the university to send this volume to its regular recycler.

"The big thing is that this is something that had to be done - and we're doing it right," he said. Apple will provide certification that the equipment has been recycled using "green" methods, he said.

Key players in the recycling program were Ludwig and his staff, who deleted items from ISU inventory lists and packed pallets for transport; and Central Stores and Environmental Health and Safety crews, who picked up truckloads of used equipment around campus and delivered it to the ISU Surplus site off Airport Road.

"EH&S was behind this, big time," Ludwig said. "They had a crew of four or five people and a couple of box trucks that made a majority of the pickups."

Other units involved in the project were IT Services and Business Services.

Here's the breakdown of the 59 pallets ISU Surplus staff are preparing for transport by Apple:

  • 43 pallets of computer monitors (about 1,000 monitors)
  • 12 pallets of printers, scanners, fax machines (about 11,975 pounds)
  • 3 pallets of keyboards and mice (about 3,775 pounds)
  • 1 pallet of televisions (11 TVs)


"We did in 10 to 12 days what it typically might take us six to eight months to do."

Norm Hill, Central Stores