More personal computer refurbishing and recycling companies are needed in Malaysia to push the circular economy agenda and end the “take, make, use and dispose” model in the local IT industry, says Chan Weng Hong, general manager of sales, products and marketing at Acer Sales & Services Sdn Bhd.
He says the consumption of IT hardware in the country is huge. Some 11 million PCs were shipped to Malaysia in the past five years alone, despite the fact that the country only has a population of 31 million. At the end of their productive life cycles, these PCs typically end up in landfills.
Chan was speaking on “Accelerate IT while Saving with the Circular Model” at the recent The Edge SME Forum 2018 in Petaling Jaya.
Desktops and laptops have a short life cycle and become obsolete quickly, especially in recent years, thanks to competitive pricing and rapid developments in software, among others. As a result, large businesses tend to end up with a lot of redundant IT equipment, most of which are not responsibly disposed of.
“As the IT hardware company with the largest number of dealerships in the country, we knew we could not keep letting this happen. We have to change because our actions could help or damage Malaysia. But we cannot do it alone. We need more local partners who are able to help us with refurbishing and recycling PCs in order to scale the effort,” says Chan.
Acer has done many things to reduce the number of PCs in landfills. Apart from utilising as many recycled materials as possible in its products, it has also designed its PCs to be tougher and more durable. The company also works with local partners that refurbish PCs to extend their productive lifespan, says Chan.
“These computers will be used those who do not necessarily need the newest, fastest and most advanced hardware. Some may say this is counterproductive to Acer’s business because we are addressing a market that we could have sold to. But if we want to be responsible and help the circular economy, refurbishing is the right way to go,” he adds.
The company recently introduced the “Acer Buy Back Programme” to promote responsible hardware recycling. surrendering their old hardware, customers are eligible for subsidies that can be used to purchase newer, better and greener PCs from Acer, says Chan. The old PCs will either be refurbished, resold, reused or recycled, depending on their condition.
Chan explains that PCs and related electronic equipment contain substances such as metals, glass, plastics and certain chemical compounds that are highly recoverable, recyclable and reusable. recycling the old equipment in a responsible manner, users can keep electronic products out of landfills and help maximise the use of natural resources.
“Lithium, for example, is a highly sought-after material used in smartphones, laptops and even self-driving cars. Not many people know this, but it actually takes 70% more energy and produces 70% more carbon dioxide to mine lithium compared with just recycling it. That is why we think these kinds of efforts are important,” says Chan.
The company is urging Malaysian small and medium enterprises to go green replacing their old equipment with new green PCs that are able to provide higher performance, less downtime, improved productivity and greater efficiency.
“It does not cost more to go green. In fact, it could help users save money. Energy Star-certified PCs are equipped with power management features, which place them into a low-power ‘sleep mode’ after a designated period of inactivity. Users can actually save US$35 a year just activating this feature. This means that they could save more than RM420 in the next three years,” says Chan.
He adds that there needs to be a concerted effort in the IT industry to encourage the circular economy in Malaysia. “We should not be the only ones pushing for change. Players in the whole ecosystem should start thinking about the consequences of their actions and what they can do to make the world better.
“On top of that, we think there should be more articles, events and talks to promote awareness of the circular economy. Hopefully, these efforts will create awareness, increase understanding and spark the passion to recycle.”