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Re-use rather than recycling is greenest IT strategy

Jenny Williams

IT managers should prolong the life of IT by re-using rather than recycling unwanted equipment, according to a report by Computer Aid International.

The specialist IT charity is a not-for-profit supplier of professionally refurbished computers to developing countries. Its report, Why re-use is better than recycling, calls for public bodies, businesses and consumers to re-use rather than recycle unwanted IT equipment to help developing countries as well as the environment.

Haley Bowcock, Computer Aid's environmental advocacy officer and author of the report, said, "For IT specifically, the environmental payback for recycling is small, as the vast majority of energy use is expended during the production, rather than the use phase - 80% and 20% respectively.

"Adding to this is the fact that most PCs are often replaced by their primary user well before the end of their productive lives, and the impact of energy inefficiency becomes evident. The reality is that the single most environmentally responsible activity for a still-functional PC is to extend its life."

Re-use has been recognised in the EU's Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Directive, but without any re-use targets.

Computer Aid is calling on IT managers to maximise the use phase of IT, either by postponing replacement or providing kit to a second user.

IT managers wishing to find out more can read Computer Aid's guide to help businesses dispose of their IT waste properly.


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