PC report card slams poor disposal standards

Tech buyers should buy the more environmentally-friendly products such as HP and Dell, ahead of less ecologically-aware computers, according to a PC report card released this week.

The inaugural report card, which is the first of its kind in Australia, ranked six of the country's largest computer brands on environmental standards such as use of toxic-free products and whether the company had a take-back scheme for obsolete products.

While no computer company had an excellent environmental performance, Dell, which takes back products, was ranked highest, while Toshiba was the lowest, failing on most scores, according to Environment Victoria's Zero Waste Campaigner Jenny Henty. She said the report card sends a clear message to consumers that when they're shopping around for a computer they can buy or lease an environmentally better product.

The report also examined the escalating problem that redundant computers pose.

Instead of being reused or recycled, staggering amounts of discarded computers are being stockpiled or dumped in landfill, which is leaving a toxic legacy for human and environmental health, the report says. It concludes that computer companies are taking advantage of lax Australian laws and failing to be responsible for old products.

The report found:

  • Charities have become the dumping grounds for dead computers;
  • Australia lags behind many nations in controlling computer stockpiles;
  • Computer components - such as flame retardants in plastics, lead, barium and cadmium - cause various cancers, birth defects and disabilities.

"Because of industry laziness and poor government initiatives, the vast majority of computers are gathering dust in cupboards or being dumped in landfill. This must stop," she said.

"Creating one computer uses the same amount of water, chemicals and fossil fuels as it takes to make one mid-sized car. So it is shameful that three in four computers are dumped or stockpiled.

"If we want to avoid leaving a legacy of cancer, birth defects and a range of illnesses, then there must be an industry-wide take-back scheme of obsolete computers. And if they can't voluntarily do that, government must force them to do so, as they do overseas."

Computer facts:

  • Each year three million computers are sold in Australia
  • 500,000 computers in Victoria are redundant each year. Three out of four discarded computers in Australia are dumped in landfill or stockpiled.
  • 731,500 computer are dumped in landfill each year in Australia
  • In 10 years 1.77 million computers will be redundant each year.
  • The ACT is the only place that bans computer waste to landfill.
  • In five years, 30 countries will have take-back laws for electronics (Australia has no law).
  • Making one desktop computer and monitor uses the same amount of chemicals (22kg), water (1500kg) and fossil fuels (240kg) as a mid-size car.
  • The biggest computer users are small and medium businesses (28 percent); followed by large corporates (23 percent); government (18 percent); households (17 percent) and education (14 percent).
  • In just over a decade, the number of personal computers worldwide increased fivefold-from 105 million in 1988 to more than half a billion in 2002.
  • A typical computer monitor contains lead, barium and hexavalent chromium. Other toxic ingredients include cadmium in chip resistors and semiconductors, beryllium on motherboards and connectors, and brominated flame retardants in plastic casings. Electronic waste contributes 70 percent of lead, cadmium and mercury in landfill.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Staff Writers

Show Comments



Victorinox Werks Professional Executive 17 Laptop Case

Learn more >

Sansai 6-Outlet Power Board + 4-Port USB Charging Station

Learn more >



Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles


PCW Evaluation Team

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?