Interesting Computer & Electronic Recycle Statistics

November 20, 2010

There are interesting recycling statistics that explain the need for stricter regulations regarding data security and environment directives, such as the WEEE Directive implemented in 2007. Under WEEE, (Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment) any IT and office equipment falls under the same recycling and disposal directives that are required for refrigerators, freezers and air conditioning units that contain hazardous gases.

Alarming recycling statistics

  • According to Environment Agency statistics, in the UK business to business sector alone, the quantity of waste electrical and electronic equipment collected amounted to 14,600 tonnes last year.
  • The Environment Agency said that IT and telecommunications equipment formed the largest section, accounting for 5,900 tonnes.

WEEE regulations are intended to improve statistics such as these, and in fact alarming as these numbers are, WEEE collection volumes from businesses declined by 1,300 tonnes or almost nine per cent compared with 2008.

Other computer recycling statistics

Here are a few more recycling statistics relating to computers and electronics:

Did you know that the average PC contains approximately 100 poison chemicals? Lead, Arsenic and Cadmium are among them and they can seep into the water supply, if PC’s are dumped in landfills.

Did you know that the typical computer CRT monitor might contain as much as 8 pounds of lead?

There are some computer manufacturers that now offer computer recycling by taking old computers in on exchange and Hewlett Packard is a large supporter of this programme. According to their statistics, released in the American market in 2003, they recycled more than 750 million pounds of electronic waste on a global basis since their initiative started in 1995, making them the largest computer recycler in America during 2003. Since that time, many of the other computer manufacturers have started their own cash-back or free recycling programmes.

Environment Agency licensed waste carriers can dismantle computer equipment to remove harmful metals and recapture the valuable metals like copper or gold, but there are specialist recyclers that are also able to discern computers that can be refurbished and re-used.

Secure recycling of your IT and office equipment might involve data protection, in addition to recycling or disposing of computers. Interesting recycling statistics regarding IT or computer equipment containing confidential data, can be alarming, when you think of the statistics released in an IBM survey. At the time, only 5% of those disposing of their old hard drives relied on professionals for data wiping. The unfortunate fact about this statistic is that most people do not understand the steps that are involved in data wiping, but it takes multiple times to reformat and wipe hard drives clean, before data is fully removed.

While recycling computers is a crucial environmental responsibility, there can be tremendous cost involved, should your customer’s personal information fall into the wrong hands. Consider that shredding a hard drive requires pieces that are less than 1 cm to comply with defence standards, but 80 GB and larger hard drives are in high demand on the refurbished market so professional data wiping can provide valuable computer equipment for many of the less fortunate.

Computer recycling statistics are constantly changing, but they do provide us with a wake up call when it comes to disposing of IT and electronic equipment responsibly.