The IT industry could be brought to its knees if hardware vendors ignore the impact their activities are having on the Earth’s supply of rare metals, experts warn.
IT disposal firm Sims Recycling Solutions claims the manufacture of computer chips, semiconductors and LCD screens will be hampered if the industry fails to curb its reliance on gallium, hafnium and indium in their production.
Citing figures compiled by the University of York, the company warns that supplies of all three metals will run out within the next decade if no action is taken.
Myles Pilkington, chief marketing officer at Sims Recycling Solutions, said: “The exhaustion of finite resources is a tangible concern that will affect everyone. Finding alternative solutions to some of the rarer materials and promoting the reuse of equipment and components are good places to start.”
Hardware vendors should support legacy equipment for longer to put people off upgrading their equipment unnecessarily, stressed Askar Sheibani, chief executive of IT repair firm Comtek. “Increasing the quality and durability of the products they produce is imperative, so that they do not have to be replaced as often,” he said.
Both firms stated that more must be done to prevent the illegal dumping of e-waste products in the Third World where they are not recycled. “The products are shipped overseas in good faith because they are labelled reusable, when they are actually waste,” said Pilkington.
Computer Aid International (CAI) has been campaigning for the Environment Agency to be given powers to prosecute companies illegally exporting e-waste. Anja Ffrench, director of communications at CAI, said: “This was something that the Waste Electrical and Electronics Advisory Board was working on prior to its closure. We strongly hope it will be continued.”
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