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Fancy a recycled Dell PC?

Come June, Dell Computer will start its PC recycling programme in Australia and New Zealand. Apart from the environmental upside, will this lead to cheaper PCs?

COMMENTARY--Mention the word recycling and the first thing that comes to mind is rubbish.

According to the Green Office Guide, people don't realise that the operating costs of office equipment, including computers and peripherals, can be far more than the intial purchase price.

An AU$4,000 photocopier that's continuously on for seven years over its two-million copies life may consume $1,500 of electricity, $24,000 in paper and $15,000 of toner, the guide said. It added that greenhouse gas emissions from supplying energy from power stations and manufacturing and disposing of the paper you use could exceed 80 tonnes of carbon dioxide, which is equivalent to more than the total greenhouse gas emissions of a typical Australian home over that seven-year period.

Come June, Dell Computer will jump on the recycling bandwagon. The company, which already operates a recycling programme in the United States, will unveil a similar plan in Australia and New Zealand.

Dell is currently designing a voluntary recycling programme for capital cities in Australia, Auckland, Christchurch and Wellington, Nicole Gemmell, Dell Australia's spokeswoman said. "It will offer our corporate, small business and consumer customers an avenue to dispose of their used and unwanted PCs, regardless of brand, in an environmentally friendly manner and at zero cost to them," she told ZDNet Australia, adding that further details will be finalised later.

For Hewlett-Packard, environmental benefits from recycling PCs, monitors and printers is not the only yardstick for success. "There isn't a disconnect between value from an environmental perspective and value from the business perspective," said Walt Rosenberg, HP's vice president for social and environmental responsibility. "I think they go very much hand in hand," said the US-based executive.

In Australia, HP recycles computers, printers, servers and even handhelds, and also accepts products from competing vendors.

If Australian computer makers and users up the ante in refurbishing used machines, this will bode well for the entire industry--technological devices could and should cost cheaper, and we would live in a more environmentally-friendly place.

What are your views on PC recycling? Do you think going green will benefit computer manufacturers and users alike? Please send all comments and opinions to edit@zdnet.com.au.