Christine Mosier, a representative of CompuCycle, said that is the main concern expressed by those dropping off their old electronics and appliances at the Ellington/Clear Lake Neighborhood Recycling Center. The center is located near Ellington Airport, off of Texas 3 at Brantley Road.
"People are like, 'What's going to happen to our stuff?' " Mosier said.
Some have used their computer to pay bills online and to store personal information.
They can't just toss the computer in the trash because the hard drive has too much personal data and might contain toxic material that would be bad for the environment.
At the center, Mosier said all data is guaranteed destroyed.
And she added that every effort is made to reuse and recycle as much material as possible. All of this is done in strict compliance with environmental laws and regulations.
"Very little of what comes to our facility actually goes to the landfill," Mosier said.
The city of Houston and CompuCycle began working together two years ago to offer electronic recycling for the public. CompuCycle is the first Houston-based company to be awarded R2-Certification, which is part of a family of standards established by the International Organization for Standardization. This voluntary certification requires annual audits by a third-party organization.
But Mosier said the process doesn't stop there.
"We audit all of our downstream vendors," she said. "We make sure they're doing what they say they are doing."
Although the service is relatively new, Mosier said the Ellington Airport site has collected more than 34,000 pounds of electronics since it opened two years ago. This represents an average of between 4,000 and 7,000 pounds of electronics each month, she said.
The Ellington center is open the second Saturday of each month.
CompuCycle and Houston also operate two other electronic recycling sites. Kingwood Metro Transit Center, 3210 W. Lake Houston Parkway, is open the first Saturday of each month. The Center Street Recycling Center at 3602 Center St., Houston, is open the third Saturday of each month.
Hours for all three centers are 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Sandra Jackson, public information officer for the Houston Solid Waste Management Department, said the service is open to all members of the public.
"It's a really good service provided to the residents, free of charge," Jackson said. "It's fast. It's convenient. It's free. And it's not just computers. They take small appliances, also."