Reuse technology before upgrading it, says charityOnly upgrade old equipment once it has died

12 August 2010

Computer CRT monitors dumped - reuse or recycle instead

An IT charity is urging consumers to keep using their computers, mobile phones and printers right up until the end of their productive lives.

Computer Aid said consumers should donate their old technology to family and friends or charity before opting for environmentally unfriendly upgrades.

It also said consumers should only recycle their old equipment once it had genuinely reached the end of its productive life since manufacturing technology was both energy and materially intensive.

Technology and the environment

The charity claims that information and communication technologies (ICTs) contain substances that are either hazardous or valuable to the environment. Therefore, keeping ICTs out of landfill made resource and environmental and public health sense.

Computer Aid maintains that it is 20 times more energy efficient to reuse working computers than to recycle them and that reuse lowers ICT resource completion costs far more than recycling.

An extract from Computer Aid’s ‘Why reuse is better than recycling report', reads: ‘Often unwanted information and communication technologies (ICTs) are not actually end-of-life; many have a productive lifespan that far exceeds typical use.

‘These artificially short life spans drive additional, unnecessary production and waste generation, magnifying the environmental impacts associated with the manufacture of ICTs.

'Given that energy and material intensity of computer use was concentrated in the production phase, and that resource depletion costs of recycling ICTs are large, any activity that extends their life, such as reuse, makes clear environmental sense, as it reduces demand for the production of new equipment in the first place.’

If your desktop computer, laptop, notebook or printer really does need replacing, see which models were rated Which? Best Buys

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