US corporations will waste $3 billion next year through inefficient disposal of old PCs - and Europe is totally neglecting the issue.
According to a study by research company IDC, 83 per cent of the 11.1 million machines US companies will discard next year will be donated to charity, taken to landfills or disposed of by other costly means. Only 17 per cent of the machines will go down the more economical route of the second user market.
In the UK, not only are companies wasting money in disposing of PCs, but they are ignorant of the dangers of non-environmental methods. There is a lack of interest among users and manufacturers in this issue, according to Joy Boyce, corporate environmental manager at ICL and chair of the Industry Council for Electronic Recycling (ICER).
"No one in Europe has really got a handle on what to do about retired PCs," she said. "We basically don't know how many are out there, as many UK companies dispose of their PCs privately and they end up going into a chain of recycling companies, making it extremely difficult to find out where they end up. It is a nightmare waiting to happen."
Boyce added that, for large manufacturers like ICL, recycling was one option but was "like a set of scales", as environmental impact had to be weighed up against the high costs involved.
Suppliers may be forced to take a more active role in disposal, though, if new legislation is passed by the EU. According to James Foulk, an IT analyst at IDC: "At present, it is up to the user to dispose of their retired equipment. However, planned legislation may change all that and bring Europe into line with Japan where manufacturers are liable for disposal of hardware."
The IDC survey also stated that the age of PCs also influences how they are disposed of. The study was based on the costs of retiring 486 computers, but the author of the report, Lorraine Cosgrove, estimated that the cost may increase for older models.
The study also shows that selling a 486-based PC to a broker dealing in used computers, at a price of $119, would be $150 cheaper for the business than selling directly to the employees.
But Cosgrove admitted that users were gradually becoming better educated about the issue and slowly coming round to the benefits of selling back PCs to the second user market. "There is an increasing number of PCs being put into the used market, at a faster rate than there was a year ago."
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