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updated 11/12/2008 12:16:14 PM ET 2008-11-12T17:16:14

Dell Inc. and office-supply vendor Staples Inc. are working together to offer free recycling for Dell computers, printers and other products.

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Under the partnership announced Wednesday, people can drop off any amount of Dell-branded PCs, monitors, keyboards, printers, mice and other accessories at any of Staples' 1,500 U.S. stores for recycling, without having to make a purchase.

Framingham, Mass.-based Staples started selling Dell computers last year as part of Dell's expansion from made-to-order sales on the Web into retail stores.

Staples logs the incoming equipment, then hands it off Eco International, a recycling company that has worked with Staples and Dell rival Hewlett-Packard Co., in the past.

Eco International picks up the PCs and other devices and brings them to one of its regional recycling facilities. It breaks everything down into parts and resells ones that still work. Then, it shreds what's left over and sells those materials to manufacturers that can reuse them.

Electronics are laden with plastics, heavy metals and toxic chemicals, which often end up in dumps in China and other developing countries. Staples and Dell said Eco International does not export waste to other countries or send hazardous chemicals to landfills.

Staples and Dell are both investing in the program but did not disclose financial terms. Dell said the joint effort will operate at a loss in the short term, and that the goal is to make it a break-even operation.

Dell and Staples both operate other recycling programs. Staples offers free cell phone recycling and charges $10 per piece to accept non-Dell computers, printers and other PC-related items. Since 2007, Staples said it has collected 2 million pounds of electronics recycling.

Round Rock, Texas-based Dell has a smaller partnership with Goodwill Industries in some regions. The PC maker also lets people ship Dell-branded items back to the company for recycling without charge.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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