Computer Aid International defends export of old PCs to poorer countries.

Computer Aid International has questioned analyst group Gartner's claims that re-using secondary PCs is not environmentally friendly.


Computer Aid International has questionedGartner's claims that re-using secondary PCs is not environmentally friendly.

According to the analyst firm, developing countries are becoming a dumping ground for e-waste as western countries refurbish and export secondary PCs to emerging markets rather than disposing of them. Gartner described the act as "passing the toxic buck".

However, according to Computer Aid International, re-use has been proven to be 20 times better for the environment than recycling.

"Halting the transfer of technology from privileged countries to less privileged countries is not the right thing to do. Building capacity for responsible re-use and environmental recycling is the right thing to do," said Tony Roberts, founder and CEO of Computer Aid International.

"In fact, the issue of refurbished PCs polluting the developing world is a red herring. There are more than 10 billion items of electrical and electronic equipment in use globally today. Every item will need recycling and next to zero capacity exists in sub-Saharan Africa today. If there was not a single second-hand PC in existence then the task of building end-of-life recycling capacity for e-waste would be no less urgent than it is today."

Roberts said that while the charity "supports Gartner in highlighting the very real dangers of e-waste", he was concerned that by focussing purely on PCs Gartner was obscuring the real problem and the real villains.

"It is essential that end-of-life recycling capacity is put into place in all countries. We need to turn the spotlight onto international governments to take legislative action and onto OEMs to finance this work," added Roberts.

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