Hardware manufacturer Dell is piloting a free PC recycling service in Sydney and Melbourne as of next month.
The recycling service is free only when you purchase a Dell Dimension desktop or Inspiron notebook and a courier will take away an old computer from any vendor when delivering the new one.
Dell started offering a national, recycling service in December 2004, which cost the consumer $36 per item. Since then, Dell estimates it has recycled some 60 tonnes of computer equipment, including unwanted desktops, notebooks, handhelds and printers from Dell and other vendors.
Through the service, Dell will pay money for certain computers less than three years old that are able to be resold. For example, Dell will pay $110 for a desktop with a 1.3Ghz Intel Pentium IV CPU, 256MB memory, 30Gb hard disk drive, CD drive and 17in display.
Computers that can not be re-sold and are older than three years are sent to government-approved recycling facilities, which claim to prevent 90 percent of the product going to landfill.
Any scrap material to be exported for "more efficient disposal" is processed to remove hazardous and toxic material to ensure compliance with government and international conventions.
Dell A/NZ managing director, Joe Kremer, said that by offering the free recycling service, the company hoped to set an example.
"Industry, retailers, government and consumers all have a role to play in reducing e-waste and we have actively supported the move towards a national recycling scheme led by the Australian Information Industry Association," Kremer said.
"We are also continually looking for ways to make it easier and more affordable for people to dispose of their old computers ... PCs contain materials like metal, glass and plastic which can and should be recycled and reused."
Earlier this month Dell held a "recycle day" at a Sydney public school and with the aid of 30 company volunteers, collected 9.6 tonnes of unwanted computer equipment including 312 obsolete CRT monitors.
Spokesperson for Dell, Paul McKeon said there was no cut-off date set for the free trial. He said that rolling it out to other areas was a possibility.
HP has also recently extended its recycling program which previously only recycled original HP print cartridges. The vendor now organizes the free pick-up and recycling of any computer hardware from any vendor, but only for customers with a minimum pick-up volume of one pallet size or min one cubic metre.
Lenavo and Optima were also contacted by Computerworld but were unable to respond by time of publishing.
The Department of Environment and Heritage estimates that on average, one million computers are sent to landfill each year and next year this will rise to 1.6 million.
The Minister for Environment and Heritage, Ian Campbell, said that the federal and state governments are currently working with the industry to develop an effective computer recycling program.
"I plan to host a roundtable with the computer industry early next year to progress this," he said.