ITU Demands Re-Usable IT Kit

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Recycling and reusing IT equipment will help save the environment, says the ITU

International telecoms body the ITU has called on the tech industry to stop demanding users junk existing kit in “forklift upgrades”.

The ITU has issued a declaration calling for a “life-cycle” approach to ICT design, so upgrades won’t mean replacing entire systems. The declaration – which is being sent to next week’s Earth Summit in Rio –  also recommends ICT is used heavily in smart energy and smart city projects, and countries focus on delivering broadband to enable more efficiency.

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The ITU declaration comes at a time when government moves to mandate greener ICT approaches are under pressure – as measures like the UK’s Carbon Reduction Commitment look like falling by the wayside in the face of concerted opposition from business leaders to anything that might increase costs in a recession.

The European Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) directive is supposed to reduce the amount of e-waste that is produced, but has been criticised for emphasising recycling (which destroys the equipment and reclaims its chemicals) instead of re-use (where viable equipment has a longer lifecycle).

As a UN agency, the ITU can hope to influence government policies – as it is also doing in the issue of telecom regulations where its views on Net Neutrality are expected to be influential. The current declaration, issued at a Symposium in Montreal, combines measures that would cost industry money (such as reducing e-waste) with others where the ICT industry could claim an expanded role in society, such as the move to Smart Cities.

However, the ITU is urging world meetings on the environment to set world targets  for e-waste reduction. Next week’s Earth Summit is being urged to promote the use of broadband, as the UN believes this will help reduce global warming.

The Earth Summit marks the 20th anniversary of the 1992 Rio Summit, which proposed the Kyoto Protocol to reduce global warming. This has turned out to have less power than environmentalists had hoped, and the UN failed at Copenhagen in 2009 to establish international measures to reduce greenhouse gases.

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