Recycling old computer equipment takes time, money, and energy. Cash donations help FreeGeek cover our recycling fees and cover administrative costs and operational costs. Make a secure cash donation online via PayPal by clicking the donate button.
FreeGeek Chicago responsibly recycles and refurbishes computers and computer-related hardware in any condition. This page covers the equipment we accept, equipment we do not accept, suggested recycling donations, our data destruction policy, and how to prepare your donation for drop-off.
We accept donations during OpenShop hours. If you have a large load to drop-off, give us a heads-up by calling our shop phone (773.342.6205). To request a pickup, please fill out our brief Pickup Request form.
There are a number of items FreeGeek Chicago accepts which have limited reusability and therefore get sent to our recyclers in bulk. While FreeGeek gladly accept these items to ensure safe and responsible recycling of these items, we do suggest the following donation per item to help cover our recycling and processing costs.
FreeGeek Chicago wipes or physically destroys every hard drive and phone. Destruction of other types of media are currently handled by Vintage Tech. We use Secure Erase and Nwipe (based on Darik's Boot and Nuke (DBAN)) to wipe drives. If you require certified compliance with data-destruction and retention regulations, you must destroy your data prior to donating equipment.
To make a quick and easy drop-off, please consider writing up a list of items that you plan on donating to FreeGeek. Please bring as little packaging as possible. It is also helpful to us if you remove any stickers, notes, etc. We do not recycle styrofoam. Please try to untangle all cords and cables. Coil them up with a rubber band or twist tie. Attach power adapters (AC adaptors, transformers) to their associated equipment (such as powered speakers, printers or external modems) as best you can; clear packing tape works well.
We reuse any materials we can to build complete computer systems that we give to volunteers as part of our Earn-a-Computer program or sell for far below the used "market rate." Reuse is the most environmentally-friendly path for your old hardware. Since reused materials don't need to be processed by recyclers, there is no energy cost to turning the materials into a new usable product. Our computer buyers, and those who earn a computer in our program, are diverted from buying newly produced computers, which further reduces the energy cost associated with putting a computer into their hands.
We are given a lot of material that we cannot reuse, most commonly because its age makes it infeasible for use in a modern personal computer or because we have tested it as non-working. Materials that we cannot reuse are sent to a recycler that we have carefully chosen based on their processes. The criteria that we use to consider and approve recyclers are based on those of Freegeek Portland: