Every few years, many IT departments get that familiar itch, it’s an itch to replace their office’s older desktops and hardware for sleeker new models with higher processing powers, impressive looks and better software. But we want you to stop and think for a minute - what are the implications of dumping these systems, and do you really need to? Or are you just following the two/three year life cycle trend?

 

What happens to my old hardware?

Every year, we in the UK throw away an estimated 2 million tonnes of electrical waste or e-waste. (Outlaw.com). And this is a problem that’s growing exponentially world-wide with 50 million tonnes of e-waste generated last year – that’s over 7kg for every person on the planet!
(The Guardian.com, Dec 2013)

Environmentally, if computer hardware is just dumped in landfill, it can have wide-reaching effects with electronic goods containing toxic substances such as lead, mercury, cadmium and arsenic.

The WEEE (Waste Electrical and Electronics Equipment) Regulations came into force in 2006 (revised in 2012); aiming to stop some of the needless chucking of old computer equipment into landfills. This puts the onus on the ‘producer’, meaning the manufacturer/distributor or reseller of the technology must take back and dispose of safely, or recycle the computer components through designated collection facilities.

But as e-waste is growing at three times the rate of any other rubbish, it’s time that businesses took a step back and thought – do we really need to dump this?

Budget implications

Not only is the binning of functioning goods environmentally challenging, it’s also pretty costly to your budget too. Replacing computer hardware on the advised average cycle (2/3 years) can cost your company thousands, whereas developing a workable schedule of upgrades and Computer Repairs could cost your company much less in the long run.

Think about the reasons you’re throwing away your old IT equipment. Is it because it has served its time or because new and shinier ones have caught your eye? Cliff Saran makes the case that really you could be disposing of old computers with years of use still left in them:

“…thanks to Moore’s Law, the processing power of PCs – even those three or more years old – is easily adequate for running desktop productivity and non-CPU-intensive business applications on Windows… there is little need for businesses to use high-performance machines that harness the latest in PC technology if they only browse the web and use email.”
(Cliff Saran, Gartner, January 2013).

It might be smarter and more financially rewarding to keep the old workhorses going by extending their lifecycles, until such time as they’re no longer useful. Also, many offices are considering replacing individual computers as needed rather than the ‘replace all’ concept that most businesses subscribe to.

What we do

As a ‘producer’ (under the WEEE regulations) of hardware products we have a responsibility and an understanding of the impact our business has on the environment. As such, in everything we do, we use the ‘reduce, reuse, recycle’ policy. For the lifecycles of the products we stock this includes:

1. Reduce the need for new by…

2. Reusing components where possible, and by…

3. Recycling parts that cannot be reused

This means that we purchase faulty machines and either refurbish or break them down for spare parts and components. Any parts we find we can’t re-use we sell on for re-use to other industries, for example gold from old motherboards and Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs). Toxic substances and unsellable parts we recycle – according to the WEEE regulations.

We’re doing our bit, and we believe that the businesses we work with should be too – so, have a look at the old machinery you’re thinking of consigning to history. Could it just use a few new spare parts? A software upgrade? Do you really need to dump it?

Check out our complete environmental policy for more green ideas: