Other CIOs are being more cautious about the products they buy, looking to eliminate harmful substances in products, and seeking cleaner, greener ways of disposing of old technology.
In the US, Kaiser Permanente was the first company to make it a condition of doing business that vendors adhere to a stringent environmental policy that included no land filling of electronics scrap, no exporting of electronic scrap and no prison labour in production or disposal.
"There are only a few technologies available in the world that are able to break down electronics to component materials in a way which poses minimal emissions as a part of the process," says full cycle asset recovery and management company Redemtech president Robert Houghton. "There are a number of 'recycling alternatives' that are not very clean and green at all. The most common in the world is manual dismantling and recycling conducted in developing countries by very cheap labour under very hazardous conditions, and that still represents the majority of recycling that occurs for the material that is originating in the developed countries.
"That has been prohibited by the Basel Convention of the United Nations but is still going on in very large scale. Landfill is still permissible in some developed countries and that allows lead-bearing electronic waste to go into the landfill and of course lead leachate out of landfills is quite a problem. Incineration is still a very common means for recycling — incineration does not pass clean air laws in most developed countries," Houghton says.
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