US corporations are expected to waste $3 billion next year through inefficient disposal of old PCs - and Europe stands accused of neglecting the issue.
According to a study by research company IDC, 83 per cent of the 11.1 million machines US companies will discard next year will be donated to charity, taken to landfills or disposed of by other costly means. Only 17 per cent of the machines will be sold via the second-hand market.
In the UK, companies are not aware of the dangers of non-environmental methods. There is a lack of interest among users and manufacturers in this issue, according to Joy Boyce, corporate environmental manager at ICL and chair of the Industry Council for Electronic Recycling (ICER).
'No one in Europe has really got a handle on what to do about retired PCs,' Boyce said. 'We don't know how many old PCs are out there, because many UK companies dispose of their machines privately and they end up going into a chain of recycling companies. It makes it difficult to find out where they end up. It is a nightmare waiting to happen.'
Suppliers may be forced to take a more active role in disposal if new legislation is passed by the European Union. James Foulk, an IT analyst at IDC, said: 'At present, it is up to the user to dispose of their retired equipment.
'However, planned legislation may change all that and bring Europe into line with Japan, where manufacturers are liable for disposal of hardware.'
The IDC survey also stated that the age of PCs is a big influence on the method of disposing them. The study revealed that selling a 486-based PC to a broker dealing in used computers, at a price of $119, would be $150 cheaper for the business than selling directly to the employees.
But Lorraine Cosgrove, the author of the report, admitted that users were gradually becoming better educated about the issue and slowly coming round to the benefits of selling back PCs to the second-hand market.
'An increasing number of PCs are being put into the used market, at a faster rate than they were a year ago,' she said.
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