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PNL helps take a byte out of waste

July 27, 1994 Share This!

RICHLAND, Wash. – Every two months the U.S. Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest Laboratory has been sending approximately 900 kilograms (2,000 pounds) of its outdated software packages to a one-of-a-kind software and diskette recycling company in Washington state and using recycled diskettes to help reduce landfills and protect the environment.

Currently, an estimated 400 million diskettes go to landfills around the United States each year, and more than 30 million of these diskettes were never used. Once in a landfill, a diskette can take up to 450 years to decompose.

In 1993, PNL sent about 4,400 software packages and 1,500 diskettes to landfills. PNL started a software recycling pilot program in January 1994 and, since then, has shipped more than 4,050 kilograms (9,000 pounds) of software packages containing diskettes, manuals, cardboard, paper, styrofoam, plastic and Tyvek envelopes to GreenDisk Inc.

GreenDisk is a software and diskette recycling company founded on Earth Day, April 22, 1993, in Woodinville, Washington. The company complies with all software license requirements before collecting and sorting PNL's materials. GreenDisk recycles 98.9 percent of all materials it receives; it recycled 2.25 million kilograms (5 million pounds) of software in its first year.

GreenDisk not only recycles PNL's software packages but also manufactures high-quality recycled diskettes for resale. These diskettes come from outdated software packages and have never been inserted into a computer - - referred to as "written once, read never."

The diskettes are degaussed, a magnetic process that completely erases information previously on the diskettes, reformatted, relabelled and environmentally repackaged. GreenDisks‘ are available in high- and low- density 3.5-inch and 5.25-inch formats for IBM-compatible computers and high- and low-density 3.5-inch formats for MacIntosh computers.

Every diskette has passed quality control testing three times, carries a lifetime guarantee and costs 10 percent less than brand-name, non- recycled diskettes. By purchasing one box of 10 recycled diskettes, consumers save up to 1.5 cubic feet of paper and plastics from entering landfills.

"Every year an estimated 16 million cubic feet of software ends up in landfills across the nation. That's enough to fill the Seattle Kingdome's football field to the height of a 35-story building," said Michael Kanyid of PNL.

PNL and GreenDisk are currently negotiating with the Richland, Washington, School District to donate binders and PNL's used diskettes to local elementary and high schools and offer recycled diskettes to the schools at a preferred price. Recently, PNL has been able to purchase recycled diskettes through Westinghouse Hanford Co. Stores.

Tags: Environment

Interdisciplinary teams at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory address many of America's most pressing issues in energy, the environment and national security through advances in basic and applied science. Founded in 1965, PNNL employs 4,300 staff and has an annual budget of about $950 million. It is managed by Battelle for the U.S. Department of Energy. For more information, visit the PNNL News Center, or follow PNNL on Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn and Twitter.

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