Wednesday, 6 February 2008

The War of Words

Inevitably there was going to be a war of words between IT companies claiming to be the greenest and it’s already started. HP sent out a press release yesterday reporting that the company has recycled nearly 250 million pounds of hardware and print cartridges in 2007, up 50% on 2006 (and also making the slightly bizarre comment that this is more than twice the weight of the Titanic!).

But the company couldn’t help pointing out that this was well ahead of Dell, who in July 2007 announced that it had ‘extended its leadership in global recycling’ by being on schedule to recycle about 275 million pounds of computer equipment by 2009.

There’s two points to make here. Clearly the marketing/PR battle lines are drawn. Companies in the hardware market in particular already recognise the need to demonstrate their green credentials to the market, so the next step is to be greener than the rest.

The second point is about how hard it is to compare ‘greenness’. For a start, Dell talks about ‘recovery’ which includes recycling and re-using, but it’s not clear whether it includes refurbishing for resale. HP says that it refurbishes another 65 million pounds of equipment, which makes the total even higher than Dell.

But the real difference is likely to be in the recycling of print cartridges. I’m no expert, but I suspect it’s much easier to recycle cartridges than computers (and less subject to government regulation, at least in Europe), and HP sells an awful lot of print cartridges. A computer hardware vs computer hardware comparison would be more meaningful.

© The Green IT Review

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