Analysis of Drivers and Barriers for Personal Computer Re-use: A case study of secondary PCs in Taiwan

University essay from Lunds universitet/Internationella miljöinstitutet

Abstract: Personal computers (PC) have become an indispensable product in modern life. Along with the growing volume of computers, the environmental burden and impact at the end-of-life phase known as e-waste become significant. Considering the material-intensive nature of the production of computers, and the environmental burdens caused by landfills, incinerations and improper recycling activities, personal computer reuse can bring benefits from various aspects. Current policy puts more focus on e-waste management than reuse and producers are not participating in the secondary PC market, except for Microsoft. This research tries to illustrate the framework of PC reuse activities and provides a background study for the enhancement of secondary PCs as a general counter-measure for growing e-waste problems. This research also examines literature and conducts a case study of stakeholder interviews to discover the drivers and barriers of PC reuse from the perspectives of three top international producers and policy markers and refurbishers in Taiwan. There are many factors to be considered before establishing a sustainable reverse supply chain for secondary PCs, such as reducing the safety risks and functional issues by building up computer reuse standards, seeking opportunities to lower the cost (user friendly total package of open OS, logistic partnerships, selections of reliable sources and optimal refurbishing locations and procedures), communication, incentives and stable channels for residents to resell or recycle their PCs in a timely manner. To reflect global e-waste problems from Taiwanese practices, because of low recovery rate of old PC refurbishment (only 20 to 30% for four to six year old PCs obtained from various sources), this research suggests to establish the secondary PC standard as the first priority, request software and hardware producers to take aggressive actions, enlarge domestic market as much as possible and only allow the exporting of functional secondary PCs meeting standards to certain emerging markets.

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