Receiving Boxes

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Updated June 2013

All About Receiving/Sorting Boxes

Receiving Box Numbers

Advanced Recycling


  • Contents:
    • Glass
    • LEDs
    • LCDs (over 4 inches and not from laptops)
    • Light Bulbs
    • Knives and other sharp objects
    • Strange items with mixed metal, plastic, and/or wood that can be easily separated.
    • Speakers with wood panels.
    • Etc.
  • When this box is full it should be brought directly to Advanced Recycling shelves in the warehouse.
  • In order to prevent the Advanced Recycling box from overflowing, anything with electronics goes in CBM, not Advanced Recycling. These will be pulled out by warehouse staff for further deconstruction. The only exception to this is speakers with wood panels. These can be brought straight to the Advanced Recycling shelves in the warehouse.
  • Deconstruct ring binders in Sorting by cutting open the plastic and removing the cardboard.
  • Items should be brought directly to the advanced recycling shelves in the warehouse.
  • When full, carefully take to Advanced Recycling Incoming.

Hardware Testing

Hardware Testing Box Sign

  • Contents:
    • External DVD & CD-RW Drives
    • High Temp Lubricants
    • Thermal Grease
    • USB hubs with wall power but not USB powered hubs (those go into the store box)
    • KVM Cables (KVM= Keyboard-Video-Mouse)
    • KVM Switches
    • 'Zip Drives with USB Ports only.
    • NO Floppy Drives**
  • When full, sort and take to Hardware Test Incoming (see map).
  • If you have questions about whether H/T will test an item not listed here, ask the instructor on duty in the area.

Anti-Static Bags

Anti Static Bags

  • Contents:
    • Anti Static Bags
  • Notes:
    • Store people generally come in every morning and grab what they need.
    • During slow times, sort bags by size and see if the store needs any
    • If the box gets to be unmanageably full, check with Recycling and H/T to see if they need any. The rest can get tossed in the trash dumpster outside of the warehouse (unless you can think of a cool art project for them).

Audio/Visual Cart

    • DVD players with remote
    • Stereo systems
    • Stereo speakers
    • Record players with cartridges
    • Receivers
    • DVRs (send to SDA to have hard drive removed first!)
    • Smaller A/V items (e.g. portable DVD players, antennas, microphones, etc.); these go to the Store box
    • LCD projectors (these go to LCD monitor incoming to be tested)
    • Digital cameras/video cameras (these go to the Lock Box or directly to SDA)
    • Computer speakers (these, with all components, go front Receiving to be tested)
    • VCRs (CBM)
    • Small, cheap Boomboxes (CBM)
    • Car stereos (CBM)
  • Notes:
    • Consult the wants/don't wants graphic charts below and the A/V Triage for A/V questions.

AV Box Sign

AV "Wants" Chart of gizmos for A/V Area in hallway

AV "Wants" Chart of gizmos for other areas

AV "Do NOT Want" Chart

  • When full, A/V staff and volunteers will come empty the cart.


Batteries Sign

  • Contents:
    • Batteries from devices we receive.
    • Free Geek does not accept loose non-rechargeable batteries. If someone wants to donate loose non-rechargeable batteries, direct them to the donor desk where they can pick up an "Other Recyclers" flier which will say where to recycle batteries.
  • No:
    • Cell phone batteries (these go in Cell Phone Accessories)
    • Laptop batteries (these go in Laptop Accessories)
    • Light ballasts
  • Note: Volunteers should always wear gloves when handling batteries.
  • When full, or when times are slow, see if the store would like any tested batteries. If so, test Alkaline and Lithium Batteries. Use the voltmeter. One lives in Receiving under the laptop. Then, batteries should be sorted into three boxes: alkaline (dead ones), rechargeable (including cordless phone batteries, etc.), lithium (dead ones), and button batteries. Rechargeables are bagged in special bags and put in special battery boxes (see warehouse staff). The others are taken to the Recycling check-in desk.

Bulk Sales

Bulk Sales Sign

  • Contents:
    • Multi-line phones (large sets should be brought directly back; include all cords and power adapters)
    • Phone headsets
    • Bar code scanners
    • Point of Sales devices (nothing with a hard drive!)
    • Anything that says "Plantronics"
    • Remember that Online Sales and the Store always have first priority for sellable gizmos.
  • When full, sort and bring items to John's bulk sales area in the warehouse (shelves near LCD Monitor Incoming)


Cards And Motherboards Sign

  • Contents:
    • Cards and motherboards (anything with a metal face-plate or I/O shield belongs here.)
  • When full, put them on the Hardware Testing Incoming shelving unit near Hardware ID.

Cassette Tapes

  • Contents:
    • Video and Audio Cassette Tapes.
  • When full, bring to the shelves in the warehouse near the Recycling Work Table.


CD Box Sign

  • Contents:
    • CDs only. No cases.
  • Use the CD shredder (if available) to destroy data from burnt CDs.
  • If the CD shredder is not available, make the CD unreadable in a safe and effective manner. Scratching only the back of the CD is not effective, it is more effective to scratch the top of the CD until you can see through it.
  • We don't save software CDs as we cannot resell them due to copyright issues.
  • All game CDs go in the game box. CDs with good music can be saved for receiving.
  • Movies can be saved for testing purposes and also go to the store. Ask staff member where to put them.
  • CDs are shipped to a recycling vendor, hence they need to go into a shippable box.
  • When full, make sure there are only CDs in the box, no cases, and that all burnt CDs have been damaged. Put CDs into a box with a lid. Place them near the Dirty "Junk" Plastic gaylord.

Cell Phone Accessories

Cell Phone Accessories Box Sign

  • Contents:
    • Cell Phone Batteries
    • Cell Phone Wall Chargers
    • Cell Phone Car Chargers
  • No:
    • Cell Phones (they go in the Lock Box)
    • Cell phone cases (they go to the Store Box)
    • Cell phone ear pieces (they go to the Store Box)
  • Notes:
    • Rubberband all cords.
  • When full, sort and take to Hardware Test.

Copper Bearing Material

CBM Box Sign

  • Contents:
    • Electronics with mixed metal and plastic
    • Old drives: floppy, zip, CD-ROM (not High Speed or Ultra Speed)
    • Mice (to be recycled)
    • Phones (to be recycled) but not cell phones (lock box).
    • Orphaned remotes
    • Speakers (to be recycled) but not if they have wood paneling (deconstruction).
    • A/V items to be recycled
    • Old calculators
    • Etc.
  • No:
    • Harddrives
    • Batteries
    • Cords
  • Notes:
  • Clip cords from mice and other items before putting the item into CBM.
  • Check for batteries. When removing the batteries from an item which has a battery compartment (e.g. remotes or cordless handsets), remove the battery compartment cover and put it in E-plastic. This saves the recycling staff time, as they can pick up an item and see that the batteries are gone without having to open up the compartment.
  • When full, CHECK FOR HARD DRIVES. Take out any batteries (check inside devices), plastic- or metal-only items, Ultra or High Speed CD-ROM Drives, DVD, or DVD-RW. Make sure there are no cords in the boxes. Bring the box to the Recycling Warehouse and set down in front of the CBM gaylord. Do not dump the box into the gaylord; recycling staff will sort through the box before it is dumped into the gaylord.
  • Recycling/Warehouse staff may choose to further deconstruct some of the electronic items we put in the CBM box.

Cords/Wires Bin (To Be Recycled)

Danger Cart Sign

  • Contents:
    • Cords to be recycled
  • When full, empty bin into the Cords Gaylord (In front of the recycling bench, it is the furthest on the left). Inform volunteers to QC the bin for any wall warts or other gizmos that may have not been detached from the cord, if a volunteer is asked to empty it.
  • Connectors need not be cut from the cords.

Dirty Plastic

Dirty Plastic Sign

  • Contents:
    • Hard plastics that are not E-plastic
    • Cases that are not standard jewel cases (e.g. casette cases)
    • Plastic garbage cans and bins that we don't want to use
    • 5 1/4" or 8" floppy disks that have been cut in half
    • Plastics as flimsy as those that come from a CD/DVD envelope.
    • RAM packaging
    • CD Spindles
  • When full, sort out filmy plastic, E-Plastic, and anything else that isn't dirty plastic. Take the box to the Recycling warehouse and set it near the Dirty Plastic gaylord (see map). Do not dump the box into the gaylord; recycling staff will sort through the bin before it is put in the gaylord.

DVI Cables

DVI Cables Sign

  • When full, sort through to make sure there is only DVI cables. Check with the store to see if they need any. If not, leave the full box as is and auto-recycle all incoming DVI cables (until there is room in the box for more).


E-Plastic Box Sign

  • Contents:
    • Thermoplastics, i.e. plastics from electronics.
    • The plastic will usually have one of these labels:>ABS< (Acrylonitrile butadienestyrene), >HIPS< (High Impact Polystyrene), >PS<(Polystyrene), or a combination of these.
  • No metal!
  • If you an unsure about something e-plastic and it does not have one of the above labels, put it in Dirty Plastic.
  • When full, make sure there is no metal on any of the plastic. Take to the warehouse and set near the E-Plastic gaylord. Do not dump in the gaylord; recycling staff will sort through the box before it is dumped in the gaylord.


Ethernet Cables Sign

  • Contents:
    • All ethernet cables.
  • Notes:
    • Do not have volunteers sort the cables as they are putting them into the box. This creates too much confusion, particularly when we are busy. Instead, have volunteers sort the box when we are slow.
    • When we sort the box, we leave some cables in the box in case there is a grant which needs cords or there is internal need for cords.
  • When full, the store will usually come get what they need. Auto-recycle incoming ethernet cords, except for CAT 6 or extra-long cords. If times are slow, sort through the box using the following criteria:
    • Send all CAT 6 cords to the store.
    • Send all cords that are 10 feet or over to the store.
    • After you have sorted out the cords which are 10 feet or over, recycle all unlabeled cords and all cords less than or equal to CAT 5.
    • Put the CAT 5e cords back in the box. If the box is still over half full, recycle enough of the CAT 5e cords so that it is half full.

Fans/Heat Sinks

Fans and Heat Sinks Box Signs

  • Contents:
    • Computer fans
    • Computer heat sinks
  • When full, take to the Hardware Test Incoming shelves (see map).
  • Fans and heat sinks are tested by H/T. Good ones are reused in the build program or sold in the thrift store.

Figure 8

Figure 8

  • When full, When full, check with the Store and Laptops to see what if they need any. If not, keep them in there as storage. Auto-recycle all incoming Figure 8 until the Store and Laptops needs more.

Filmy Plastic

Filmy Plastic

  • Contents:
    • Filmy plastic
  • When full, separate out any Anti-Static Bags (the silver ones) and intact Ziplock bags. Plastic bags with handles can go to the store. The rest of the plastic can be bagged up with a bag from the Supplies Closet and taken to the warehouse near the Styrofoam (see map).


Firewire Sign

  • When full, sort out the true firewire cables and re-sort the ones that don't belong. Keep them there as "back up" and recycle all incoming firewire cables until the store needs some.

Floppy Disks

Floppy Disk Box Sign

  • Contents:
    • Only 3.5 inch floppy disks.
    • No zip disks, no 5.25 inch floppies, etc.
  • When full, check to make sure that there are no zip disks or other misplaced objects. Zip disks go in the Zip Disk Box. Bring to the warehouse near the Recycling Work Table.
  • Floppy disks are disassembled at the Recycling Work Table or in Sorting when slow

Games Box

Games Box Sign

  • Contents:
    • Game Consoles that do not contain data (Sega, NES, SNES, 1st Gen. Playstations, etc.)
    • Joy Sticks
    • Controllers
    • Game CDs and Cartridges
    • Anything related to computer or personal gaming systems.
  • When full, take to the Store

Gloves Box

Gloves Box Sign

  • Contents:
    • Gloves of various sizes for volunteer and staff use.
  • Notes:
    • Gloves should always be worn when handling dangerous (e.g. poisonous, sharp, etc) objects, when sorting batteries, when taking apart floppies, when digging through gross or dirty donations, and at any time when common sense would make them seem appropriate. Gloves can also help with lifting as they improve your grip. Volunteers should be shown where the gloves are and invited to wear a pair if they so desire during the initial sorting orientation.

Head Phones bin

  • Untangle and bind up cords with rubber band and bring to Headphones Incoming box located in Receiving, they will be tested there.

Jewel Cases

Jewel Cases Box Sign

  • Contents:
    • Only CD cases.
  • All paper must be removed from cases.
  • Jewel cases are shipped to a recycling vendor, hence they need to be in a shippable box with a lid.
  • When full, Make sure paper has been removed. Place cases into a box with a lid. Then put them on the floor next to the Dirty Plastic gaylord.

Laptop Accessories

Laptop Accessories Box Sign

  • Contents:
    • Laptop Drives
    • Laptop Power Supplies
    • Mickey Mouse Cables
    • Laptop Cards
    • Laptop Screens
    • Other things laptop related
  • No:
    • Laptops--these are locked up in the SDA.
    • Laptop Docks - Go into CBM (or Recycling Table Work)
    • Printer power cords
    • Mac Laptop cords--they go into Mac Incoming box
  • Notes:
    • Rubberband the cords up nicely.
    • Separate the figure-eight cables from the power supplies and put them into the figure-eight box.
  • When full, sort and take to Laptops.

Laptop Docks

  • CBM (Recycling Table Work) all laptop docks until further notice

Lock Box

Located in Front Intake area aka Receiving

  • Contents:
    • Cell phones
    • PDAs
    • Digital Cameras
    • MP3 Players
    • USB Flash Drives
    • Phone SIM Cards
    • Anything small which stores personal data
  • No:
    • Harddrives. These go to the SDA for erasure and damaging.
    • Chargers or accessories (these go to Cell Phone Accessories or PDA/Digital Camera accessories)
    • Items that are too large to fit (e.g. digital video cameras) can be brought directly to SDA.

At the end of each day, bring the contents to SDA.

Mac Incoming

Mac Incoming Box Sign

  • Contents:
    • All Mac Accessories (anything with an Apple Logo that is NOT a system)
    • Mac Keyboards and Mice that cannot be tested because are too old or are wireless (bluetooth)
    • Older Mac install disks. (Prior to OS 10)
  • No:
    • USB Mac Keyboards and Mice (they go to Keyboard and Mice testing, respectively)
  • When full, sort and take to Macland Incoming

Magnetic Metals

Magnetic Metals Box Sign

  • Contents:
    • Magnetic metals (test on the magnets on the shelf)
    • Mouse balls (these include enough steel to be recycled as magnetic metal)
  • When full, sort using magnet and set on floor in front of the steel cart in the warehouse between the gaylords.

Mouse Pads

  • Contents:
    • Non-gross Mouse Pads (the gross ones can be thrown away!)
    • This bin lives in Receiving. Most mouse pads that come in will be sent to Sorting. Non-gross mouse pads that go to Sorting can go to the Store box.
  • If infrastructure needs mouse pads, they can either be obtained from Receiving or from the Store.

Network Devices

Network Devices Sign

  • Bring to Front Intake aka Receiving so that they may be placed in to the SDA.
  • Contents
    • Routers
    • Modems
    • Other network-y or switch-like devices
  • Include the power adapter, if there is one.
  • When full, bring box to SDA.

Non-Magnetic Metals

Non-Magnetic Metals Box Sign (print on white paper)

  • Use magnet to determine whether magnetic or not.
  • When full, Take them to the warehouse and find a staff member at Recycling Check-In (see map).

Office Supplies

Office Supplies Box Sign

  • Contents:
    • Office supplies that we can use at Free Geek
  • When full, bring to office supplies area by Monkey House and distribute items appropriately (or ask a front desk worker to do so).

Online Sales

Online Sales Box Sign

Online Sales "Wants" Chart

  • Contents
    • Trackball mice
    • Antique electronics
    • Film scanners
    • Tools and batteries/accessories for tools
    • Scientific calculators
    • Brand name items (see sign)
  • When full, Online sales staff will come empty the box. If it is overflowing, find Brian.

Optical Drives

Optical Drives Box Sign

  • DVD Drives
  • CD Drives (Only High Speed and Ultra Speed)
  • DVD/CD RW combo drives
  • No Biege Drives

Other Disks

Other Disks Box Sign

  • Contents:
    • Plastic Data Cartridges (They Look Like Big Tapes)
    • Metal Backed Data Cartridges
    • Other strange and evil data storage devices

  • No:
    • 5.25" Floppy Disks. These should be cut in half and placed into Dirty Plastic.
  • When full, take them to the Other Disks shelf in the warehouse.

Packing Materials

Packing Materials Box Sign

  • Contents:
    • Foam
    • Pretend styrofoam (it bends! no real styrofoam!)
    • Other reusable packing materials
  • When full, sort out what can be reused and what cannot. See if online sales needs any. Fill the box under the Printer Island shelf with any that can be used to separate toner. Bag the rest up in a clear garbage bag and bring to styrofoam area in the warehouse (John's bulk buyer will use it).

PDA/Digital Camera Accessories

PDA/Digital Camera Accessories Box Sign

  • Contents:
    • PDA Accessories
    • Digital Camera Accessories
    • Web Cams
  • No:
    • PDAs--LOCKBOX!
    • Digital Cameras--LOCKBOX!
    • PDA and camera cases (these go to the store box)
  • This box is emptied by long-term volunteer Tom McCall who tests these items. If it gets full before Tom can come in, sort it and place it on the H/T incoming shelf.

Power Cords

Power Cord Sign

  • Standard Power Cords are sometimes kept, sometimes auto-recycled depending on the needs of the organization.
    • A makeshift box is made on days that HW Grants and the Store back stock are low. Otherwise, they are recycled.
  • When full, sort out the unwrapped and "dirtier" ones. Put those into the wire bin to be recycled. All others (wrapped and new looking) can be taken to the Hardware Grants storage area in the Recycling Warehouse. If that is full, the cords can be put in the Store back stock area in the Recycling Warehouse. If both storage areas are full, recycle any new cables that come in.

Power Supplies

Power Supplies Box Sign

  • Contents:
    • Power Supplies
  • Power supplies get tested in Hardware Testing. The good ones are reused through the build program or sold in the thrift store. The bad ones are disassembled in recycling.
  • When full, bring them to Hardware Testing incoming.

Printer Accessories

Printer Accessories Box Sign

Printerland "Wants" and "Doesn't Want" Chart

  • Contents:
    • Printer Ink
    • Printer Toner
    • Printer trays and power supplies which have become separated from their printers.
  • Printer toner is poisonous if inhaled.
  • When full, take to Printer Land.


Processors Box Sign

  • Contents:
    • Socket based and slot based processors
  • If possible, do not put socket based processors in this box. Instead, walk all socket-based processors to Hardware Test Incoming.
  • Do not put processors in CBM even if they are very old and H/T will not want to reuse them. Processors are recycled separately from other parts so that the gold can be extracted from them.
  • When full, take to Hardware Test incoming shelves and put in the "Incoming CPUs" Box.

RCA Cables

RCA Cables Sign

  • When full, sort out any fancy gold-plated RCA cables and 1/4" stereo cables (two black rings) and take to the store. Recycle any old/dirty cables, and keep the rest in the box.
  • Cables with Mini (1/8inch) to RCA connectors should be put into the store box.

Ribbon Cables

Ribbon Cables Box Sign

  • Remove any cables with steel plaques screwed onto the IDC connector (these go to the Deconstruction Box). Take Ribbon Cables to the warehouse and set in front of the Ribbon Cable Gaylord in the warehouse by CBM and Thin Colored Wire.

SATA cables

  • This box no longer exists. Please recycle all SATA cables until further notice.


Store "Doesn't Want" Chart

Store Box Sign

  • Contents:
    • Empty laptop bags
    • Extension cords
    • Surge protectors
    • Certain cords that do NOT have their own box (e.g. HDMI)
    • Converters (e.g. DVI to VGA)
    • Small A/V items (portable DVD players, microphones, small USB speakers, etc.)
    • Blank/unopened CDs/DVDs and floppy discs.
    • Brand new, unopened items that are not super old
    • Other super neat items that may have resale value in the thrift store.
  • NO:
    • Cords or items that have their own box (or any unwrapped cords.)
    • Battery chargers
    • Most software
    • Inappropriate movies
  • When full, sort and bring box to the Store through the door by Macland.


Styrofoam Box Sign

  • Contents
    • Styrofoam
  • We do NOT accept styrofoam. The only styrofoam that comes into receiving is accidentally taken in during donations. When a donor brings a large item in a box, if possible, open the box while they are still there and check for styrofoam. If there is styrofoam, ask the donor to take the styrofoam with them. Thank them profusely when they agree. Remember: people put their stuff in the original packaging as a favor to us. Tell the donor that they can get a flyer at the donations desk which will tell them where they can take styrofoam for recycling.
  • When full,break up the Styrofoam inside of a big trash bag. Then take it to the warehouse and toss it up on the Styrofoam shelf (see map).

Thin Colored Wire

Thin Colored Wire Sign

  • Thin Insulated Wire
  • When Full, Take to the warehouse and set on floor in front of the Thin Colored Wire Gaylord.

Unsorted Memory

  • Contents
    • Memory or RAM
  • When Full, bring memory to Hardware Test Incoming shelf. Place in "Incoming RAM" box.

USB Cables

USB Cables Sign

  • Contents:
    • USB A cords, USB A to B cables.
  • Notes:
    • Cords that are USB to Firewire should go in the USB box, not the firewire box.
    • USB mini go to Cell Phone Accessories box.
    • USB micro go to Store box
  • When full, sort out the USB cords making sure that all the correct "kinds" are in there. Check with the store back stock to see if they need any. If they do not, leave them there while auto-recycling all incoming USB A and A to B cords until more are needed.

VGA Cables

VGA Cables Sign

  • When full, sort through to make sure there are only VGA cables. Check with the store back stock to see if they need any. If not, leave the full box as is and auto-recycle all incoming VGA cables (until there is room in the box for more).

Wall Warts

Wall Warts Sign

  • Contents:
    • Wall warts (AC adapters) that don't go to an identified gizmo (i.e., no cell phone chargers, printer power adapters, laptop power supplies, etc.)
  • Notes:
    • Rubberband the cords up nicely (not around the AC adapter part)
  • When full, sort and bring to Hardware Test Incoming.

Wireless Mice/Keyboards

Wireless Keyboards and Mice Box Sign

  • Contents:
    • Wireless Mice
    • Wireless Keyboards
    • Wireless Receivers
  • Note: Keep receivers with keyboards and mice whenever possible (use tape and/or rubber bands).
  • ALL Wireless Keyboards, Mice and Receivers should go to this bin.
  • When full, pull out any wired keyboards or mice, then take to the Hardware Test Incoming shelves.

Zip Disks

Zip Disks Box Sign

  • Contents:
    • Zip Disks
  • When full, sort out any floppy disks or other non-zip disks and bring to the zip disk shelf in the warehouse.