IT’s not a pretty picture: Computer Aid reveals new research on IT disposal in the UK

Computer Aid has today launched the first of its two part series of research into how large UK companies dispose of their IT. The research was made possible through the generous support of Vanson Bourne who donated their time and resources to help us better understand the trends in PC disposal and also raise awareness of the issues around current disposal practices.

Vanson Bourne’s team of researchers surveyed 100 senior IT decision makers in companies with over 1,000 employees across the UK and the results were very concerning. The full overview can be found here but key findings include:

  • 1 in 5 senior IT decision makers in the UK are “not confident” that zero per cent of their company’s unwanted IT goes to landfill
  • Only 14 % follow best practice IT disposal and send their working IT for reuse
  • But 83% of those who don’t reuse would like to do so if possible
  • 542 PCs disposed of per large company per year

Dumping e-waste in landfill is illegal as well as incredibly damaging for human health and the environment, so it’s very worrying that 20 per cent of our largest companies cannot be sure their own PCs don’t get sent to landfill. You can see the impact of the illegal trade of electronic waste in the Environment Investigation Agencies special report titled System Failure, the UK’s harmful trade in electronic Waste.
It’s also disappointing that so few companies are following best practice IT disposal and reusing all their working equipment and recycling the rest. This is especially the case given that average PC replacement in large corporates is between 3 and 4 years – which is under half a PCs typical working life. With so many people in need of ICT across the world, it is unjustifiable that working PCs are being needlessly disposed of as waste.

On the other hand it is reassuring to note that 83% of IT decision makers who don’t reuse would like to do so if possible, but this raises the question – why don’t they? Data security, cost and existing leasing agreements are the main reasons, however there are numerous organisations that provide excellent data disposal and free decommissioning services (of which Computer Aid is one!) and companies must look beyond existing processes to improve their entire IT decommissioning procedure.

Given that IT decision makers know that reuse is the most environmentally friendly method of disposal and the vast majority want to reuse their PCs if possible, then why aren’t they reconsidering their IT disposal practices?

We want this research to act as a call to action to companies to reassess their IT disposal practices. Rather than damaging the environment through dumping in landfill or, to a lesser extent, opting for recycling rather than reuse, companies have an opportunity to improve their impact on the environment. Furthermore, if companies send their PCs for reuse to where their equipment is most needed, then they can also play a huge role in poverty reduction initiatives across the world.

Many thanks to Vanson Bourne for their support of this research.

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