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Reduce And Reuse - New Ways To Handle E-Waste

Feb 29, 2008
We live in a "technocentric" culture, depending heavily on our PDAs, cell phones and laptops, the networks that keep us connected, and the Plasma and LCD technology that lets us view media in ever sharper resolution. But technological innovation, while making life easier and more entertaining, has its costs. Consider all of the old technology discarded when a newer model comes along. What happens to it?

Despite increased awareness of the problems of e-waste, old computers can still find their way into landfills where they can leach toxins, or be shipped for processing to developing countries with few regulations in place to protect the health of workers.

Since the European Union's Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive was passed in 2003, considerable attention has been directed toward solving the problem of e-waste. As a result, it is now easier for businesses to become better stewards of the environment while still keeping current with technology.

New Options For Business

What can businesses do to minimize the environmental damage from their old equipment? Here are a few suggestions:

* Reduce the Need - Buy smart so that a computer can grow with an employee. Cascade older equipment to users with less technologically demanding jobs. Equipment rentals can also get you through crunch times without forcing you to acquire a lot of new technology.

* Reuse - Instead of dumping old equipment, find a non-profit organization that can redirect it to someone who can use it. People with disabilities, at-risk students and low-income families are just some of the beneficiaries of such programs.

* Buy Used - Consider used equipment the next time you are looking to purchase hardware. Technology firms are recognizing the detrimental effect of short computer life spans and are now improving the performance of their machines. According to Gartner Inc., longer computer life has given a serious boost to the market for used computers and peripherals. In fact, Gartner expects very strong growth in used computer sales over the next few years.

Disposal

Even if you practice "green computing" there may come a time when disposal is the only option.

To ensure that equipment disposal has minimal effects on the environment, many businesses hire a third-party IT asset disposal (ITAD) firm. Here are a few pointers about selecting an ITAD firm from Joe Strathmann, writing for greencomputing.com:

* Data - You need to know that the firm will "wipe" the machine clean. You also need to ask about its auditing processes to ensure that the firm meets all applicable regulatory standards for data security.

* Paper Trail - The firm should provide you with a certificate of destruction that lists the machine's serial number, describes how data was removed, and indicates whether the machine was recycled or sold.

* Dollars and Cents - The cost of proper disposal has come down as the ITAD industry has matured, but you need to make sure that the firm you choose follows industry standards, regardless of the cost of its service.

* Recycling vs. Landfill - What will the ITAD firm do with old system components? Check that they will recycle according to industry best practices and not just toss parts into a landfill or dump them in an unregulated facility in another country.

With a little resourcefulness you can reduce the environmental impact of the hardware your business acquires. When the time for equipment disposal comes, a little research will help you select a reputable and affordable ITAD firm.
About the Author
For more information on end-of-life solutions for your business computer rentals contact http://www.vernoncomputersource.com
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