PC recycling steps up in UK

Peter Burgdorf, head of refurbishment and recycling for Fujitsu-Siemens in Germany, confirmed that the company's existing facilities will be joined by similar plants across Europe, including the UK, over the next three to four years, but could not say which countries would be involved or when the British operation would be set up.

The expansion marks Fujitsu-Siemens' compliance with the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive. Due to come into force next year, WEEE will oblige computer manufacturers in EU countries to provide recycling facilities for their customers' old PCs.

But Burgdorf said that cost was a problem. "At the moment, 99 per cent of what we recycle is from professional users who have large quantities of equipment; WEEE is looking to involve private households which may only have a monitor or old keyboard. This is a costly way to recycle."

The cost implications for smaller PC manufacturers, which cannot afford to set up dedicated recycling plants, are greater still. Tiny's Alison Boswell told us that the company couldn't guarantee recycling overheads wouldn't be reflected in the price of PCs.

"Obviously, there are huge costs involved," said Boswell, "and these could be brought down if manufacturers put their heads together. We want to minimise costs so we don't have to pass them on to consumers."

Logistics, too, are an obstacle when it comes to recycling home PC equipment said Burgdorf. "Fujitsu-Siemens would like to see local authorities setting up specific recycling points for old PCs. "

Fujitsu-Siemens currently uses a network of third-party recyclers in the EU but, says Burgdorf, this is not cost-effective. "We like to reuse parts, and it is more difficult to retrieve them from third-party recyclers which are also reclaiming televisions and so forth. This is why we are setting up our own operations."

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