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IBM Tackles e-Waste With Chinese Server Facility

Darryl K. Taft covers IBM, big data and a number of other topics for TechWeekEurope and eWeek

IBM has opened its first server refurbishing facility in China in an effort to tackle the growing problem of e-waste

IBM is looking to tackle the problem of e-waste head on after it opened a new server remanufacturing or refurbishing centre in China.

The facility will extend the life of older IT equipment that otherwise would go into landfills.

Old kit buyback

The new centre, located in Shenzhen, will help reduce the impact of e-waste on the environment. IBM will also buy back select IBM Power Systems from clients as they upgrade to new IBM equipment.

IBM said the new facility expands the company’s global remanufacturing and refurbishment operations in Australia, Singapore, Japan, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany and the United States. The Shenzhen facility will initially remanufacture hundreds of midrange IBM Power Systems, which are reconditioned, tested and certified using rigorous processes and original manufacturing standards, or rebuilt to meet specific customer requirements. The facility will rapidly expand to remanufacture 100,000 PCs and low-end and midrange IBM and non-IBM servers per year by 2014.

According to IDC, the used equipment market in China is forecast to reach $25 billion (£15.6bn) by 2014, with more than two-thirds forecast for used low-end, midrange and high-end servers and PCs alone.

Poor record?

IBM’s remanufacturing centre is a positive initiative in a country known for e-waste. Guiyu, China, is known as the country’s electronic waste village and is a dumping ground for discarded electronic equipment from around the world; almost 80 percent of the discarded electronics come from outside China.

TIME magazine ran a photo essay on the situation. The Chinese electronic wasteland also was the subject of a “60 Minutes” episode.

“The demand for IT products in emerging markets is growing; however, not all businesses want to purchase new products,” Richard Dicks, general manager of IBM Global Asset Recovery Services, said in a statement. “As the first IT provider licensed by the government to remanufacture servers on mainland China, IBM can help clients affordably acquire IBM Certified Pre-owned Equipment locally to supplement and support their IT operations while helping the environment.”

Environmentally responsible

For nearly 30 years, IBM Global Asset Recovery Services has provided clients with an environmentally responsible approach to managing older and end-of-life IT equipment, the company said. The company takes back IBM and non-IBM equipment at end of lease or when a client decides to upgrade in mid-lease.

In addition to remanufacturing and certifying equipment, IBM Global Asset Recovery Services handles complete removal and dismantling of unwanted or end-of-life IT products, preventing, on average, 97 percent of the weight of equipment it processes from going into landfills.

IBM said China represents a promising opportunity for IBM Certified Pre-owned Equipment, especially for small and midsized businesses that want to lower IT costs, or for clients that need to meet short-term IT project requirements, find emergency replacements or expand existing IBM infrastructure when a specific model is no longer in production.