UNESCO hosts meeting on recycling information technology equipment in developing countriesParis – On March 14 and 15 in Paris, UNESCO is bringing together specialists from all over the world to discuss the recycling of millions of units of computer equipment that become obsolete every year due to progress in information technology, but which could be extremely useful in developing countries.
The goal of this first international meeting, entitled New Synergies for the Recycling of Information Technology Equipment, is to learn about existing initiatives in the field and to draw up concrete proposals to include in a global strategy for more efficient use of recycled IT material, from computers and printers to scanners, software and servers.
According to a survey of 20 global corporations in Europe and the US by The Digital Partnership, more than a million PCs will be decommissioned in the next three years. The acquisition cost of these computers was probably more than US $ 1.5 billion, but their residual value is likely to be less than US $ 60 million. The top 100 global companies have an estimated IT stock in excess of 7 million PCs, and the top 1000 may have more than 30 million. These figures are due to the speed of technological progress. Though offered with a three-year guarantee, computing units are obsolete within a year of purchase, and some even within six months.
Yet this equipment would be very useful in developing countries, if the recycling process were included in a sustainable development programme. The prospect raises a number of questions. Can this equipment be used in a different social, economic and cultural context? How can the transportation of tons of recycled material be financed? How resolve the issue of licenses for the computer programs? How to avoid conflict with local distributors, who may oppose the initiative as unfair competition? How to establish cooperative projects with governments so that recycled equipment is used for social development? How to guarantee that used technology will not add to pollution problems caused by electronic residue?
These are some of the questions that participants will debate at the meeting, which will take place at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris (Room XIV, Bonvin building). Among those attending will be: Timothy Anderson (World Computer Exchange); Tony Roberts (Computer Aid International); Lyndall de Marco (The Digital Partnership); David Sogan (Digital Links International); and Chris Mullaney Sundlie (Microsoft Corporation).
Journalists who wish to cover the meeting must request accreditation from the Press Service, tel. +33 (0)1 45 68 17 45