Until two weeks ago I believed that our local council gave used computers to organizations for reuse and recycling. I based this belief on the Barnet website, http://www.barnet.gov.uk/, which states that home office and computer equipment is, and I quote, “collected by organizations for reuse and recycling” .
However, this was not my experience when I took one of the family’s many discarded PCs to be recycled, or so I thought. If he had imagined that he was going to help a poor village in Africa or some other place too hot to mention, he was wrong.
Because as I headed to the corner where a lot of our tech waste ends up, I could clearly hear, in the distance, the unmistakable sound of a man.
“Throw it in the junkyard mate.”
I turned around with as much dignity as a man carrying a desktop computer and pointed out that I believed it was board policy to recycle used computers.
“Nah, man. People leave them with the electronics, but we throw them away anyway.”
I complied and made a mental note to check this ‘fact’ with the local authority, who seem to be putting a lot of effort into reducing waste. And so I did, and I’m waiting for a response to tonight’s email. As I tossed this piece of ‘junk’ into the giant bin, I reflected on the fact that, so few years ago, an incredibly complex and clever piece of equipment like this would have been someone’s most prized possession, probably even belonging to a company. private and definitely costs thousands. But even for that money I would not have been able to buy one, since the best on the market was not even that fast, just a few years ago.
Today such an item is simply not good enough, not even worth taking apart for someone else to deal with.
The way people here behave, you’d think there are too many computers in the world, but according to Computer Aid International, a charity that distributes PCs in the developing world ([http://www.computuraid.org/] )
“The digital divide that currently exists between developed and developing countries is huge. The latest World Bank research shows that there are 5 or fewer computers per 1,000 people in the vast majority of Sub-Saharan African countries. This figure also is applicable to the South Asian subcontinent”.
Here in the UK, more than half of all households have at least one PC, more than ours.
Is there a link between our attitude towards used technology and our attitude towards everything around us? I think so, but that’s another topic for another day.
By the way, the City seems to be doing something with the monitors. I saw them loaded onto a pallet at a considerable rate. It is quite difficult for them to keep up with the number that arrives.