IT budgets to foot recycling bill

New hardware recycling legislation may increase your IT costs by up to 10 per cent - but many people don't know anything about it
Written by Andrew Donoghue, Contributor

More than one-third of senior IT management are completely clueless about impending legislation that could result in user organisations footing the bill for greener disposal and recycling of defunct hardware.

While the majority of senior IT professionals questioned agreed that more should be done to reduce the huge quantities of technology equipment being dumped in landfill sites, a survey from UK office equipment manufacturer Brother has revealed that 37 per cent had never heard of the impending Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) directive.

The final draft of the WEEE directive was issued by the DTI last week. The industry has been given till 29 October to respond to the draft before the European directive is finally enacted into the UK statute books later this year. But WEEE will not come into affect until August 2005 and the first targets for collection, recycling and recovery are in 2008.

"It's worrying to see Britain's businesses aren't fully aware of the implications of WEEE -- and the potential cost it could mean to their businesses. IT managers should be putting strategies in place now," said Mike Dinsdale, marketing director of Brother UK.

The survey of 250 of IT users also revealed that those managers in the know believe the introduction of the directive could cost them up to 5 per cent of their total IT budget.

According to Dinsdale, it's about time the industry took more responsibility for the mountains of waste it creates. But he claimed that although the legislation will make manufacturers responsible for the costs of recycling, there are also implications for IT buyers.

"Many companies have stockpiles of old IT equipment and they will be responsible for disposing of the waste that vendors won't take back -- potentially with heavy costs for companies failing to plan ahead," he said.

The main aim of WEEE is to make manufacturers and consumers more responsible for the disposal of old equipment. Analyst Gartner believes costs will ultimately be passed on to end-user organisations. In a recent research note, EU's New Recycling Rules could Drive-Up European PC Prices, the analyst group estimated that legal changes could add $60 to the price of PCs in Europe by 2005.

"From 2004, budgets should incorporate the costs of equipment disposal. From 2005, budgets should be allocated for a separate recycling fee. This will most likely be included in the purchase price of new PCs," said Gartner.

UK recycling company Maxitech claims up to two million working Pentium PCs are dumped in landfill sites every year.

The not-for-profit organisation claims the public sector should be setting the example when it comes to green disposal in the run up to the introduction of WEEE.

"The arrival of the WEEE Directive means business now have to consider recycling sooner rather than later, and we are looking to the public sector to take a lead and adopt a socially responsible policy with regards to redundant equipment," said the company's managing director, Peter Paduh.

Maxitech clients include the Local Government Association and the Green Party.

For more on the implications of WEEE see the DTI page here.

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