TechSoup’s Refurbished Computer
Initiative (RCI) has provided warrantied refurbished computers and other IT
devices to nonprofits and libraries for eight years now. In recent months we've
made some improvements to see how good we can make refurbished computers.
PC Rebuilders and Recyclers (PCRR) is our newest
RCI refurbishment partner and is now providing enhanced troubleshooting to our
program. All organizations experiencing
difficulties with their RCI PCs and monitors within our 90 day warranty period may be eligible to receive
troubleshooting support for their equipment. For more details regarding the RCI policies on this visit the returns and
warranty page. We have much deeper troubleshooting support to offer you. I'll explain more on that below,
but here's some background on the RCI program.
In 2004 we published our Islands In
The Wastestream study, which measured the demand for low-cost computers
among U.S.-based nonprofits, schools, low-income families, and small microenterprise
businesses. Not surprisingly we found that there is considerable demand for
good low-cost PCs. We then pulled in the New
Sector Alliance and some UC
Berkeley Haas Graduate School of Business volunteers to really help us
think through how to address the demand. When all was said and done, we
received a 2005 seed-funding grant from Full Circle Fund and
launched the Refurbished Computer Initiative program.
With a catalog
spanning desktops, notebooks, LCD monitors, desktop-monitor bundles, servers,
and printers with a variety of performance characteristics, we've now distributed
a bit over 38,000 refurbished IT devices through RCI.
We have served more than 12,300
nonprofits and libraries across all 50 states, and we estimate that we
have saved organizations somewhere in the neighborhood of $4.5 million,
based on what they would have paid for retail equivalent products (including
All of our RCI-refurbished
PCs come with the Windows 7 operating system, and all come with Office 2007 Basic. All
models also come with Symantec
Norton Antivirus and also with system restore capabilities. You can check
out our entire catalog of refurbished IT equipment here.
Using the U.S.
EPA's Electronics Environmental Benefits Calculator, here are some
interesting stats that help to quantify how the TechSoup RCI program – and our
participating recipient organizations – have done the Earth some good by
extending the life of and reusing RCI equipment:
The RCI program
also has a free end-of-life
takeback program, in which organizations can
return their RCI equipment to the partner free of charge for recycling. The RCI equipment is then
processed according R2
(Responsible Recycling Practices) standards by all our refurbishers, Arrow Value Recovery (formerly Redemtech), InterConnection, and PC Rebuilders and
Recovery has been
with us since the beginning of the RCI program when they were called Redemtech.
One of their most current philanthropic projects is Connect 2
Compete, which in a big new digital inclusion program that aims to provide
a PC and broadband Internet in every U.S. low-income household with children.
InterConnection is our Seattle-based
nonprofit refurbisher. One of their many charitable projects is to be part of
years | 20 ways campaign, a year-long effort by Microsoft to build better
careers and better lives for aspiring IT professionals and students around the
world. They're urging everyone to donate their discarded laptops to
InterConnection as part of this work. InterConnection recently worked with
us to test out Windows
Multipoint Server in charities and libraries to see how it works.
Multipoint Server is thin client
software in which one host computer is shared by multiple users simultaneously.
It makes it much easier and cheaper to set up a lab. InterConnection is also
doing a big Microsoft Earth
Day collection event. They're a busy place.
PC Rebuilders and Recyclers (PCRR) is, as I mentioned above, our newest RCI refurbishment partner. PCRR is a Chicago-based
company that was founded in 2000 as the nonprofit, Computers for Schools. It became a
commercial company in 2008. Because
charity sensibility is in its DNA, PC Rebuilders and Recyclers has a mission
to bridge the digital divide, be an electronics recycling and reuse
environmental advocate, and to be a leader in providing very high quality
refurbished IT equipment to nonprofits, libraries, schools, and low-income
TechSoup Global has had a
long association with PCRR. In 2002, Jim Lynch of TechSoup (yours truly) and
Willie Cade, the founder of PCRR, started the International Computer Refurbisher Summit.
This conference is still going strong and is organized by PCRR. The next one
will be in New Orleans in November 2013. We also worked together with other
industry stakeholders to help develop the R2 environmental and
safety standards for the electronics recycling and refurbishment industry,
and we have also testified together in front of the US
Congress to advocate for responsible electronics recycling and
refurbishment. PCRR of course is R2
certified like our other refurbishment partners.
Willie Cade was also
involved in the creation of the Illinois
Electronic Waste Recycling Act, which is the model US recycling law with a
defined flow of material that is designated for reuse and refurbishment. There
is a much bigger story to tell about Willie and his daughter, Sarah Commes’
leadership in electronics refurbishment that should be written up someday.
Perhaps most importantly
for the RCI program, though, PC Rebuilders and Recyclers is working hard to create
industrial processes to make used computers equivalent or even better (and
certainly less expensive) than new ones. They provide warranties, support, and
a user experience as good as the big computer makers. PCRR is now providing
enhanced troubleshooting to our program.
Select RCI products are now
covered for troubleshooting difficulties within the 90 day warranty period.
This may include receiving a call from our partner PCRR or a remote desktop
session depending on the severity of the problem. For a complete overview of the RCI returns
and warranty policy please visit our returns and
warranty page. We heartily welcome PCRR to our
family of RCI refurbishment partners.
This work is published under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 4.0 International License.
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