How big is the computer waste problem and what can we do about it?
While many businesses make efforts to reduce paper usage, recycle kitchen products and encourage their workers to cycle to work, how many are thinking about their computers?
We may not think much about throwing out a computer every few years as it becomes obsolete, but we really should be encouraging businesses to buy PCs that last five to six years, as opposed to three to four.
Recent numbers published by IDC indicate that the Chinese market is about to exceed the US market with sales figures for PCs for this year coming in at US73.6 million units to China’s 72.4 million. This represents just 43% of the global demand, as global annual sales are in the range of 340 million units. As these devices all have a limited life cycle, we can see that in a few years there will be 340 million PCs going to scrap.
It becomes clear that if we all spend a little more at the point of purchase to extend the life expectancy by just 12 months, there could be as many as 100 million less PCs being scrapped, recycled or going into landfill every year.
Of course, from a productivity point of view, I would never ask people to work on old, slow computers as this leads to wastages of a different kind – businesses costs. Issues with poorly running PCs include:
- More expensive technology services.
- Disruption to workflow.
- Training and familiarity issues as software and systems get changed over time.
We encourage businesses to plan their IT strategy in a way that allows them to maximise the productivity benefits of buying a better PC in the first place. Ensuring they make the right decisions at the point of purchase allows them maximum ROI both financially and environmentally.
I am pleased to say we are now seeing the world’s largest manufacturer of PCs, HP, offering four and five year warranty extensions. This should give businesses the confidence to select a slightly higher performance model and anticipate the additional useful life of the device.
So, do you have the right strategy to maximise your businesses productivity and minimise damage to the environment at the same time? Having that strategy align to your businesses plan will ensure IT is not impeding your growth.
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David Markus is the founder of Combo – the IT services company that ensures IT is never an impediment to growth.