Government // Enterprise Architecture
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3/4/2013
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U.K. Service Offers WEEE-Friendly IT Recycling Option

New recycling service, CashForLaptops, offers to pay British businesses for old laptops and monitors.

British organizations looking to upgrade their old IT equipment have a new disposal service option: CashForLaptops.org.uk, which claims to offer cash while helping companies meet European electronic disposal obligations.

The idea behind the service is to offer businesses a way to get paid for upgrading their computer equipment while keeping on the right side of complex European e-waste directives. Those directives, which are all about combatting WEEE (Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment), are meant to prevent chemicals and substances found in most electronics -- such as arsenic, cadmium, lead and mercury and certain flame retardants -- from getting into the environment via poor discard policies.

The European Union brought WEEE regulations into force in 2005 (it's been on the British statute book since 2006) and would like to see its members recycling at least 85% of electrical and electronics waste equipment by 2016. But in practice, the company says, SMBs feel it is often cheaper to leave equipment gathering dust in a cupboard than to engage with their local government's prohibition of computers being discarded with the general trash. Brussels has re-jigged regulations in an attempt to make them more popular, but a lot of WEEE work is still being outsourced to Asia.

[ Coalition government wants 25% of contract funds to go to small and midsize businesses by 2015. Read more at U.K. Pushes Govt. IT To Use SMB Suppliers. ]

The new British WEEE-friendly service has been launched by a company called Dineromob, which claims expertise with effective recycling of gadgets. Dineromob, which has been in operation for only about a year, purchases old mobile phones, TVs, video and DVD players.

According to Dineromob, two million computers are thrown out in the U.K. each year, along with laptops, desktops, uninterruptible power supply appliances, networking equipment, monitors, printers and photocopiers. The Health and Safety Executive, the British watchdog against the risk of harm in the workplace, also estimates that discarded computers make up a significant portion of the two million metric tons of electronic equipment discarded by companies and households around the country each year.

Here's how CashForLaptops works: Instead of illegally dumping or holding onto unwanted electronics, businesses can upload a description of the machines to be recycled, arrange a date for secure collection and then get paid. The service promises that any data left on the computers will be securely removed using CESG or U.S. DoD-approved wiping services. Hard drives that cannot be refurbished are shredded before they are recycled, and recyclers receive a full asset tracking and audit facility. The equipment is then either refurbished and reused -- for example, given to schools or developing countries -- or broken down into component parts and recycled according to WEEE compliance strictures.

"Many businesses in the U.K. face a tougher time of it when it comes to making way for new computer equipment," said CashForLaptops.org.uk sales director Mark Schneider. "With technology advancing at lightning speed and a new computer with new capabilities often representing an immediate competitive advantage, clearing desk space and remaining environmentally responsible can represent something of a headache."

Rick Falkvinge, the founder of the Swedish Pirate Party and a campaigner for sensible information policy, will present the keynote address at Black Hat Europe 2013. Black Hat Europe will take place March 12-15 at The Grand Hotel Krasnapolsky in Amsterdam.

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