The Queensland EPA put in place procedures to dispose of the redundant equipment responsibly, and addressed other environmental issues found in the IT environment. While not expected to be at the forefront of thinking on ‘green’ issues, the organization is leading the way for other public sector bodies in Australia.
The Queensland Environmental Protection Agency’s desktop program has replaced 2,500 obsolete PCs.
A lifecycle approach was instigated by the Queensland Environmental Protection Agency focusing on the areas of reduce, reuse, and recycle. The procurement process was improved by setting realistic sustainability targets for vendors and ensuring that replacement hardware met the European Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) and the Reduction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) directives. An important aspect of the initiative was the inclusion of other stakeholders in the program, prompting the PC reseller to establish new internal recycling practices, such as the reuse of waste polystyrene in picture frames.
The agency was also keen to reduce the power consumption and heat generation of the PCs during their working life. This was achieved by the use of flat panel LCD screens rather than CRT monitors, and the implementation of power settings that quickly move the PCs to idle mode when not in use, halving the power required by a PC if it was just left on or if a screensaver is used. The initiatives amounted to energy consumption across the state being reduced by 90 Megawatt Hours (MWH) per annum, equating to 100 tonnes less carbon dioxide emissions per year.
The use of integrated workstations, which combine the main processing unit and screen into a single desktop stand, enabled the packaging needed to be reduced by two thirds and also lowered freight costs. Any packaging that was used was recycled by being used to wrap up the old equipment, which in turn was recycled as well. The components found in the old PCs allowed at least 65 tonnes of hazardous waste to be diverted from landfill. In addition, many useful materials such as metals, plastics, and glass were recovered for use in new equipment.
There is a need for the IT manager to get to grips with the environmental challenges being faced by the organization and the IT industry. In the past, most organizations have paid little regard to the environmental aspects of the equipment they use, or the way resources are consumed. Sustainability issues are now becoming an important consideration for IT.
Source: OpinionWire by Butler Group (www.butlergroup.com)