Green Guru Calls PC Recycling 'Stupid'

An environmental expert says refitting and reusing old IT equipment has a much greater impact and new computers should be built with that in mind

Recycling IT equipment is "stupid" and should not be the top concern within a company's eco-agenda, according to an environmental expert.

Instead, companies should focus on finding kit that can be reused, with accessible parts that can be replaced easily, rather than recycled, according to a representative of the UK government's Envirowise project - which hands out free advice to businesses on green issues.

Simon Dury, business partnerships director of the Envirowise Project, said: "Recycling is stupid. It should be the second to last thing which we do before throwing away something."

Speaking at a Green Computing in Practice roundtable, Dury added companies should instead reuse or donate obsolete IT equipment to developing countries - "if we can find a robust way to make sure it goes to the place we think it is going to go".

With the long-awaited Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Directive coming into play this year to encourage companies to recycle and reuse their old IT equipment -- some companies are sending their PCs to developing countries in a bid to be green and bridge the digital divide.

But companies eager to send their old kit abroad have a duty to ensure these countries can get benefits from the technology and are not just being lumbered with defunct technology, said the roundtable panel.

Labour MP Alan Whitehead said: "If you have a whole pile of technology which is taking up a great deal of resource and is going to be difficult to service, you are just offsetting your problem to other places in the world."

The technology itself also needs to be in full working order, said the panel.

Also speaking at the roundtable, David Angwin, European marketing manager at thin client computing company Wyse Technology, said: "It does not sound like the right approach to ship out kit which is not working properly to places where it may not even be needed and there is no IT support team anyway."

Envirowise's Dury added those building the IT products must consider the environmental impacts from the start with 80 per cent of the environmental impact of a product linked in at the design stage and 63 per cent of materials used to make the device not making it to the final product.

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