More than 12 million PCs not recycled

More than 12 million PCs not recycled

Specialist recycling facilities may be needed at rubbish tips to cater for disposal of IT equipment

Special departments will need to be introduced at rubbish tips to cope with discarded computer equipment, according to Fujitsu Siemens Computers.

IT equipment makes up 39 per cent of the 1.8 million tonnes of waste generated every year in the UK, second only to large household appliances, which make up 43 per cent, says a study by the PC supplier.

Britons have failed to re-use or recycle 12.5 million unwanted PCs or laptops in the last five years and 25 per cent of of people dump such waste at their local tip.

And 6.2 million people claim to store unused computers around their homes and gardens.

The Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Directive, which became law last year, mandates computer suppliers to provide facilities for recycling equipment, but public awareness of the regulations is poor.

By recycling only a small proportion of computer waste, we are missing a huge opportunity, said Dave Pritchard, senior technology strategist at Fujitsu Siemens.

“Although one in four people do take their rubbish to their local tip, unless their laptop or PC is assessed on the site, there is no guarantee that it will be passed on for re-use or recycle," he said.

"This is a huge missed opportunity. With the right facilities these thrown away units could easily be re-used elsewhere and those facilities need to be at the municipal sites where people drop off their waste.”

Specialist charity Computer Aid, for example, recently distributed its 100,000th refurbished PC to developing countries, ensuring an environmentally-friendly use of old equipment.