Gartner: 'Go green' with caution

Recycling and redeploying equipment can prove costly and difficult to manage, the analyst firm has warned

Organisations facing up to the issue of stricter environmental legislation and guidelines have been warned not to undermine their business in a rushed attempt to "go green".

Analyst house Gartner has produced a report warning businesses of the risks of entering into processes which can prove costly and difficult to manage. Risks include the disposal of machines which contain sensitive information. Gartner is also warning organisations to be prepared for legislation such as the WEEE (Waste Electronic and Electrical Equipment) Directive which will eventually come into force.

Gartner warns that companies won't just have to be compliant, they will have to be able to prove they are compliant — a very important distinction.

The report, entitled "Creating a Process for PC Disposal", says: "It is the responsibility of the company to clearly document the process used to dispose of surplus or obsolete PCs and to maintain a chain of custody certifying who took custody of the PCs, on what date and time, and where the PCs went.

As such it recommends thorough auditing of all equipment, including kit already in storage awaiting disposal. It also warns companies to assume they may be taken to court and should therefore prepare in advance.

Other steps recommended by the report include deciding whether resources can be reused — such as redeploying PCs deemed "end of life" to one part of the business in another area or business unit. Alternatively, companies may want to look into charities offering to wipe, recondition and redistribute PCs to the developing world.

Costs can also be recovered by checking on software licences — establishing whether desktop software can be deployed. In large organisations and over multiple replacement cycles such auditing could be worth millions.

Once machines are retired to whatever facility serves as the PC elephant's graveyard — pending disposal, or for long time storage — companies must ensure they secure that facility and audit access to it.

PCs which "wander off" — whether under the arm of an opportunist or with a permitted member of staff — could easily undermine a company's responsibility to account for all kit during its lifetime if unaccounted for.

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