A recent study of UK companies showed that a large number of IT department heads are choosing, instead, to dispose of valuable hardware that still has years of useful life remaining. Our guess is that we would see a similar trend among US companies.
In a recent study by researcher Vanson Bourne of 100 senior IT decision makers operating in the UK, just 14 percent of companies with 1,000 employees or more sent all of their working computers for reuse. All the remaining senior IT personnel admitted to recycling or just sending their still functioning computers to the landfill. This is despite legislation around e-waste that recommends reuse as the preferred method of disposing old computers.
Besides the environmental repercussions of improper disposal of still-functioning computers and monitors, the economic waste is a factor that cannot be ignored.
The same survey found these companies to dispose of an average of 542 computers per year, with nearly a third replacing both the base unit and monitors every three. Most computers will last for more than double that period of time, and the complete loss of the initial investment is easy to see and difficult to swallow.
One of the major obstacles, if not THE major obstacle, to the more widespread reuse or remarketing of computers appears to be the fear of adequate data protection. Of the companies that chose not to reuse, 63 percent of the same IT directors surveyed said their choice was based on data protection concerns. The study noted that 83 percent “wanted to reuse the working equipment if data protection and cost issues were addressed.”
The premature disposal of functioning computers is both a burden on the company and the environment. With complete and professional data removal a viable option, in concert with the resale of computer systems, it is difficult to defend the practice of premature recycling or outright disposal. This is especially true with the value of the components being cast aside in the current economy, and with regards to ever more strict environmental disposal restraints.