Member Spotlight: Computer Hardware

Published February 25, 2021

This is part of a series of interviews with NRC members. The purpose is to provide insights into materials management programs and best practices of member municipalities, businesses, and service providers.

Computer Hardware is a computer store with four retail locations in Nebraska and celebrating their 40th year in business. Computer Hardware is a long-time member of Nebraska Recycling Council and previously WasteCap Nebraska. We spoke with Darrel Albers, owner of Computer Hardware, to get insight to their recycling efforts. This is the story of how Computer Hardware came to offer electronic recycling for Central Nebraska and how their program continues to serve us.

When clients began reaching out to them to help handle obsolete electronics, many of which they had originally sold to them, Computer Hardware decided to provide a service for their clients to recycle their electronics. In the beginning, there were some ramp up issues getting certified scales and lining up markets for the product, so they relied on their venders, both local and remote, to guide them. The need and volume also surprised them, so they had to ramp up logistics to handle that as well. While beginning a recycling program has it’s challenges, in the process of creating their program, they got to reconnect with some of their great clients and supply a desirable service for them.

Albers believes recycling fits well in their culture and reinforces their other efforts. They track the volume of their recycling, and they advertise locally and continually reach out to their installed base. Their goal is to become more efficient with recycling and repurposing product to lessen shipping and handling. They plan to do this by providing internal training and consulting with their downstream vendors. Computer Hardware does have, like so many others at this time, concerns about low market prices and keeping the program sustainable, and they are working hard to make sure their staff and clients are safe during the pandemic. However, Albers notes the positive that COVID-19 has very little impact on their market.

Albers offers advice on improving recycling programs, “Embrace change. Be on the lookout for new methods and markets. Ask questions of organizations and vendors already in the business. Don’t reinvent the wheel.” And if he had the power to change anything in the overall system of materials management outside his business, it would be to develop local markets for some of the product, as they have to ship so much of it elsewhere. Albers also points out that the Nebraska Recycling Council is a great resource for information. Check out NRC’s website for information on starting and maintaining a recycling program, resources for businesses and communities, and more!