May 2008

Computer reuse key to saving energy

Redemtech revealed that raising reuse rates of desktop and laptop business computers in the United States to the level of the rest of the world would:

- Save enough energy to power every home in Phoenix, Arizona, America’s fifth largest city, for a year (653,000 households).

- Reduce carbon emissions by the equivalent of that produced by 462,000 passenger cars in a year.

- Reduce solid waste equal to the weight of 2,490,000 bricks.

“One of our clients achieved more than $9 million in savings and reduced their carbon footprint equivalent to removing nearly 25,000 cars from the road for a year,” said Robert Houghton, founder and president of Redemtech. “That got us thinking about what would happen if more businesses took action to extend the lifecycle of technology systems.”

Organizations seeking to reduce the environmental impact of their IT systems need to think reuse first. Extending lifecycles reduces the need for new computers, avoiding resource-intensive manufacturing processes, saves 20 times the energy required for recycling and can put useful technology in the hands of organizations that would not otherwise have access to it.

Microsoft recently launched the Microsoft Authorized Refurbisher (MAR) program, which lowers the cost of adding the Windows operating system to computers entering the secondary market. In addition, schools and non-profits are in desperate need of technology and can often benefit from previously used computers. TechSoup (www.techsoup.org), which partners with Redemtech, provides a channel for getting these computers to deserving non-profits.

“Too much of the electronics coming out of businesses today is entering the waste stream prematurely and too much of that is not being handled properly,” Houghton said.

Earth Day represents the largest day for electronics collection, but it’s estimated that as much as 80 percent of electronics targeted for recycling are actually shipped overseas where they are contributing to environmental problems. Redemtech has strict zero-landfill, zero-incineration, zero-export, and zero-prison-labor policies. An increasing number of Redemtech clients are implementing employee collection programs to ensure that the personal computers of their employees are handled using the same processes and policies as the corporate assets.

The Redemtech analysis is based on analyst estimates that 40 million replacement PCs entered the secondary market from United States businesses in 2007. Of these, 39 percent were reused, compared to 48 percent worldwide. Reuse includes internal redeployment, resale, or charitable donation. The remainder is placed in storage or disposed, despite that fact that approximately 75 percent of these are four years old or less. Environmental equivalencies were determined using the Electronics Environmental Benefits Calculator (EEBC), developed under cooperative agreement with the Environmental Protection Agency.