Computers dumped in landfill took up more than 77,000 cubic metres last year, according to a recent report commissioned by Environment Australia in conjunction with the Australian Information Industry Association (AIIA).
What's more, if the trend continues, around 1.7 million cubic metres of landfill space will be needed to house obsolete computer equipment within 10 years.
In response, the AIIA has announced its intention to trial a voluntary take-back program targeted at consumers and small offices. The industry body will use the pilot program to gather important information on the state of redundant and end-of-life computer equipment lying dormant in garages, storerooms and offices across Australia, said Rob Durie, AIIA executive director.
Durie said the specifics of the trial are still being finalised in collaboration with IT manufacturers, government representatives and environmental groups, but will be conducted in the second half of the year. The trial will initially be limited to Victoria.
Several take-back models are being discussed for the trial such as drop-offs, where individuals can take old PCs and components to a central location for collection. The establishment of recycling depots for obsolete technology and a telephone hotline for technology to be picked up from homes are also being considered, Durie told ARN.
The program is an adjunct to the proposed National Electrical and Electronic Product Stewardship Agreement, an initiative by industry, government and community groups, which will provide a national framework for the proper disposal of obsolete electrical goods. Under this proposal, which is expected to be finalised in July 2002, a Computer and Peripherals Annexe is being developed to specifically cater to the IT industry.