Research Reveals Low Awareness of  Reuse Benefits

A recent survey of Irish organisations carried out by Camara Education has revealed that only 3 out of 10 consider reuse as an option when disposing IT equipment. Recycling of used computers is widely favoured over the more environmentally friendly reuse option. The Minister of Environment, Community and Local Government, Phil Hogan, T.D. commented that the research “highlights that we need to continue our efforts to educate both businesses and individuals of the environmental benefits of reusing ICT equipment.”

The survey of Irish companies revealed that almost 50% of Irish organisations are unaware that reuse of replaced computers is a more socially and environmentally desirable option than recycling.  Jonathan Derham of the Environmental Protection Agency commented “Exploring reuse opportunities for replaced equipment should be an organisation’s first consideration before recycling. Reuse of most equipment has a distinct advantage over recycling in that the environmental burdens associated with remanufacturing are avoided.”

The study, the first of its kind in Ireland, sought to shed light on the attitudes of Irish organisations toward computer reuse. It further uncovered that 8 out of 10 organisations do not fully understand the social impact that computer reuse can have. Most shockingly, it was revealed that 1 out of 5 organisations interviewed were aware that computer reuse is a more environmentally responsible option, yet were consciously choosing other means of computer disposal.

Ireland needs to develop a reuse culture and increase the level of reuse.  The adoption of a reuse protocol to drive more reuse of computers is a real possibility.  In this context, the Minister also commented, “It is both useful and timely that Camara has undertaken this research, and the findings may feed into Ireland’s current preparations to develop a regime which will allow us to increase the percentage of ICT and other household equipment we reuse.”

Up to 500,000 computers are estimated to be discarded each year in Ireland, half of which are suitable for reuse. Every computer that Camara reuses gives 21 children digital literacy. Over five million children could receive this critical 21st century skill if attitudes toward computer reuse change in Ireland.

John Fitzsimons, the CEO of Camara Education, an Irish charity and social enterprise that uses technology to improve education and livelihood skills in disadvantaged communities commented, “The findings of this study have been both fascinating and disturbing. Ireland has made significant strides in making environmentally conscious decisions when it comes to disposal of paper and plastics, for example. Regrettably, we have yet to change our attitudes when it comes to computer disposal. If we do, we will not only have an environmental impact but a huge social impact.”

The charity is asking both individuals and companies to consider the most socially and environmentally viable option of reuse when disposing of old IT equipment. Anyone with used desktops, laptops, monitors, keyboards and power leads can donate them to Camara for reuse in education. Camara securely wipes all data on all machines to comply with US DoD standard 5220.22m – an internationally recognised standard.

For more information on donating your used computers to Camara, visit www.camara.org or call (01) 652 2665.