Going green may be successfully branded across every reusable Coles shopping bag, but the message hasn't gained the same blanket visibility in the computer market. According to a recent national report into e-waste, just two per cent of old PCs were recycled last year in Australia.
With increasing efforts by the Australian Information Industry Association [AIIA] and Federal Government to introduce policies on end-of-life and product stewardship, the issue, however, is gaining traction. State departments have planted take-back and responsible PC disposal on the agenda as they introduce more centralised PC and computer equipment tenders. Corporates are also expressing interest in full-life PC management and are looking to integrators to take responsibility. And vendors agree that the subject is slowly but surely becoming a hot one.
A spokesperson for the NSW Department of Commerce said it would be asking candidates for its forthcoming PC, notebook and server panel to provide information about their take-back schemes. The contract will open in May.
Those suppliers vying for the first-ever centralised Victorian PC and Notebook equipment panel were also required to submit responses on how they would address their product's end-of-life. According to one vendor, suppliers could be called on to put labels on their products ensuring they will process and dispose of them responsibly and properly as far as eight years down the track.
AIIA general manager of strategy and policy services, James McAdam, said the company was working with the Federal Environment Protection and Heritage Council and all eight state and territory ministers on the issue of managing e-waste. The efforts were being directed via a working group.
"I don't think it's a new phenomenon - it is gradually being built into government procurement over time," he said. "At the federal government level, for example, there is a whole raft of environment procurement guidelines, some of which are mandatory, some voluntary."
For instance, all hardware was required to have an energy star rating. It was largely left up to individual customers to determine the rest, McAdam said.
"It's up to the department to make a decision based on their business needs and concerns," he said. "It's a commercial arrangement made between suppliers and customers."