Consumers still not getting recycling message

18 Jan 2005

A new study of consumer attitudes towards computer recycling has found that while 85pc of the general public now recycle household waste at least once a month only 9pc plan to recycle their home computer once it is too old to use.

Dell, which commissioned the research, said that the findings suggest that despite the seasonal splurge on IT equipment by consumers, the awareness of recycling and reuse options for old computers among the general population was still very low.

The findings will worry Dell along with other computer makers and electronics manufacturers selling product into the European market that will have to comply with the new EU Directive on Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment – the so-called WEEE Directive – due to take full effect in August 2005. Under the directive, producers will be responsible for financing the collection, treatment, recovery and environmentally sound disposal of electronic and electrical waste.

A potential build up of old and disused computer systems in the Irish home users market is further highlighted in the research, which shows that 58pc of homes now have at least one computer system with 38pc of respondents reporting that their computer is four years old or more.

“With PC penetration continuing to increase it is often the case that new PCs bought are now replacing existing systems resulting in many hundreds of PCs becoming obsolete to original owners. Based on the results of the survey conducted it looks likely that many of these systems could either end up being stored in homes across the country or could be disposed of inappropriately rather than being donated for reuse or recycled,” said Nicky Hartery, vice-president of Dell’s EMEA manufacturing and business operations.

On a more positive note the research reveals that there is a willingness amongst consumers to recycle their old computer equipment with almost 75pc of consumers saying that they would welcome having somewhere to take or send their old computers for recycling. The responses also show that there is a ‘feel-good’ factor attached to recycling. 59pc of consumer respondents reported that recycling made them feel that they were contributing to the environment, while 39pc said recycling makes them feel good about themselves.

Dell currently offers home and home office customers a free online recycling service when purchasing new Dell computers. This can be accessed at Alternatively users can donate computer equipment for reuse by visiting the same address which gives details on how used PCs can be donated to community and non-profit groups through Dell’s partnership with Reusable Technology Centres across the country.

By Brian Skelly