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Thursday, 11 July, 2002, 10:42 GMT 11:42 UK
Recycling law could mean costly PCs
Computer circuit board
Components like these will soon have to be recycled
Computers could become more costly thanks to European laws that force makers to recycle old machines.

Soon to be enforced directives make the manufacturers of personal computers responsible for what happens to old machines when customers upgrade their stock of machines.

Experts fear that the cost of disposal and recycling and research into new ways to dispose of the obsolete hardware could push up the price of computers.

The Department of Trade and Industry estimates that the total bill to British industry of the directives could top 3bn.

Price push

Technology magazine Computing warns that the prices of computers could rise by up to $50 when European environmental laws come into force.


If we're going to save the planet, the bottom line is we will have to share these costs

Hugh Peltor, Intellect
The Waste from Electrical and Electronic Equipment directive covers recycling of equipment such as computers, and the Hazardous Substances in Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive would ban certain substances used in the manufacturing of IT equipment.

"IT directors should be warning the board that they will be expected to pay for this in their acquisition costs," said Brian Gammage, principal analyst at research firm Gartner.

"People will start looking at leasing options and per seat options, especially in larger companies as a way to overcome these costs."

Speading the cost

Technology trade body Intellect said the expense of the new legislation would only hinder firms.

"It's certainly not going to help companies struggling out of the downturn," said Hugh Peltor, director of consumer electronics at Intellect.


What will happen to the equipment that corporations are getting rid of? Because they will be getting rid of thousands of machines at a time

Phil Reakes, Selway Moore
"However, if we're going to save the planet, the bottom line is we will have to share these costs. It can't all be down to industry."

But Phil Reakes, managing director of recycling and refurbishing firm Selway Moore, said the cost of setting up recycling operations might not be too costly.

"Somewhere in the product cost model will be a small slice that covers disposal," he said.

But, he said, problems could emerge because manufacturers were currently not ready to deal with the large numbers of old computers they have already sold to customers.

"What will happen to the equipment that corporations are getting rid of?" he asked, "Because they will be getting rid of thousands of machines at a time."

Mr Reakes also questioned what would happen when a large company picked a new supplier when it upgraded its machines. The new supplier was unlikely to be willing to pay to dispose of machines from a rival, he said.

See also:

10 Apr 02 | Business
02 Apr 02 | Science/Nature
25 Feb 02 | Science/Nature
18 Apr 02 | UK
22 Oct 01 | Science/Nature
30 Apr 00 | Science/Nature
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