Recycling History


Below is a summary of Pittsburgh’s Apple users effort to preserve the environment and provide community outreach by refurbishing and distributing donated Macintosh computers.


The Carnegie Mellon University donated a large inventory of computers to Goodwill Pittsburgh, leading to the creation of the CRC (Computer Recycling Center) on the South Side of Pittsburgh.


The first program dedicated to refurbishing Macintosh computers began with the members of the NPMUG (North Pittsburgh Macintosh Users Group) in Cranberry Township. Pittsburgh’s Apple stores, universities, school districts, businesses and home users were often giving Macintoshes to local Apple consultants. These computers in turn were given to the members of NPMUG and refurbished in the users’ homes and garages. NPMUG distributed these Macintosh computers at the Pleasant Valley Mens Shelter on the North Side of Pittsburgh. About 12 computers were reconditioned and handed out to the men.


By 2003 the volume of computers needing to be fixed increased significantly. As a result the North Pittsburgh Macintosh Users Group moved the operation to the Lighthouse Foundation in Butler, PA. 71 computers were refurbished and distributed to the local food bank population.


The North Pittsburgh Macintosh User Group outgrew the small space available to them at the Lighthouse and moved the operation to The Center for Hope in Ambridge, PA. Originally the volunteers occupied one classroom, but after the first year they expanded into two rooms.


The North Pittsburgh Macintosh User Group conquered a project to improve the CAT5e infrastructure and power needs at the center and eventually occupied four large classrooms at this community service center. NPMUG also partnered with the YMCA as a Windows PC recycling partner. The volunteers prepared and shipped Macintosh computers for the victims of Hurricane Katrina, as can be seen in the video clips below.

Volunteers demonstrate the new electrical wiring just installed in the Apple corner of the Computer Recycling Center.

December 2007:

The Computer Recycling Center refurbishes its 1000th Machine:

Bob Donaldson introduces the Computer Donation Program’s new home within Goodwill’s Computer Recycling Center.

June 2007:

January 2006:

April 2006:

September 2006:

Bob Donaldson, from the Pittsburgh Apple User Groups, gives a tour of the Computer Donation Program at the Center for Hope in Ambridge PA. The Center for Hope location was used by volunteers from the Pittsburgh Apple User Groups to refurbish and distribute surplus Macintosh computers.

May 2006:

The Crowe family of Sewickley, PA reviews the fruits of full day of hard work to get the Computer Recycling Center in Lawrenceville, PA in order. It was a spectacular day of organizing all of our piles of “stuff” and new Hosanna workbenches with some new volunteers friends.

Terry Pollard, Apple User Group leader in Southern Mississippi, interviews a graphic designer from Bay St. Louis, who lost her home in Hurricane Katrina with a tidal wave. The video shows the hurricane’s destruction of her property and her very personal story.

Hundreds of computer monitors were tested and shipped to Hi Tech Scrap, a local recycler in Homestead. About 60 G3 iMacs and B&W towers were prepared for shipment to the victims of Hurricane Katrina in Louisiana, Texas and Mississippi via the United Methodist Churches of Western PA. This is a video of that rush to prepare for the trucks.

Seneca Valley School District IT staffers donated 80 used Apple computers to the recycling effort in Ambridge at The Center for Hope. Here is the scene in the storage rooms right before we loaded up 12 of our personal vehicles (pickup trucks, vans and Subaru wagons) with all these CPUs. We cleared the basement of the Administration Building on campus in less than one hour with all the volunteer help from the local Apple User Groups that pitched in to drive from Harmony PA to Ambridge PA.

November 2006 to May 2007:

November and December 2006 was a transitional time for The Center For Hope. New management from Penn State’s Beaver campus decided to re-purpose our CRC classroom space in 2007 for more social programming .... and asked that we begin to look for a new home. We searched all over Pittsburgh to find a facility.

Computer donations exceeded 600 computers and we found ourselves continuing to burst at the seams in Ambridge, PA. Donated computers were stacked high in every corner. NPMUG volunteers were able to ship several computers to the Gulf hurricane victims in Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas while still serving the local communities in Beaver Valley along the Ohio River. But the volume of computers and their parts was overwhelming the four small classrooms at The Center For Hope in Ambridge, PA.

This marks the time in our recycling history when we were going to either grow or just shut down operations .... we considered both options.

Fortunately we lived to see another day.

The long search for a larger warehouse or some facility that could house our growing non-profit venture eventually ended in January of 2007 with preliminary talks between Glenn Callihan, Goodwill V.P, and Dennis Abbott, Director of Computer Operations at Goodwill Industries of Pittsburgh. By March 7, 2007 we had a verbal agreement in place to move to Goodwill.

Goodwill's partnership with all the Pittsburgh Apple Users Groups would mark a significant joint effort to forge the premier computer recycling center in Pittsburgh, with a focus on environmental waste control of de-manufactured computer parts, data destruction with the Kil-A-Byte program to prevent identity theft, and community outreach by providing a low cost retail store for refurbished computers and software. 

An additional partnership with Hosanna Industries of Rochester, PA was formed for construction assistance and computer distribution of the lower-end computers to the community... computers that have been fixed, but not sellable at the Computer Works of South Side due to old age and system software limitations.  Reverend Donn Ed, President of Hosanna Industries, also helped us look around for warehouse space and even considered possibly building a new site for our operations. We were "scrambling".

Charlie Hutchens, John Hamill, Rich Fitzgibbon and Dave Sevick stand next to Steve, the CRC’s 1000th Macintosh to be refurbished by the Macintosh User Group volunteers.

Glenn Callihan, Dave Sevick, and Dennis Abbott in Goodwill’s Lawrenceville warehouse.

A pile of soot covered metal racks needed scrubbing.

By March 30, 2007, we had a formal agreement and insurance in place at Goodwill. They granted us a 2,000 square foot corner of unused warehouse space. We were delighted!

A happy group of volunteers with Goodwill employees.

It would not be until May 2007 that we could truly begin recycling again. We scrubbed the space down and placed Hosanna benches, and ran electric to the benches from the single power outlet.