Most computer users would pay premium for eco-friendly PC

An international survey has found that - in most countries - the overwhelming majority of computer users would be prepared to pay a little extra for IT equipment that did not damage the environment.

Coming in the week that computer giant Dell announced it would remove key toxic chemicals from its PCs and laptops, Greenpeace has published the results of its nine-country survey which throws up some surprising results.

Germans, usually world leaders when it comes to environmental matters, cared the least about toxic computers, with just 54% saying they’d be prepared to pay over the odds for a low-impact computer – and those that would pay would only stretch to an extra US$59.

At the other end of the scale, 84% of Thais said they would pay more (up to US$138 more, to be precise) while Mexican computer users (78% of them) would be prepared to fork out a hefty US$229.

In between the extremes were the Philippines (62%/US$86), Poland (65%/US$70), Britain (68%/US$118) and China (81%/US$199).

The survey also found that in nearly every country a majority of people felt that the manufacturers of PCs should be mainly responsible for dealing with any hazardous waste that old PCs produce.

Only in the Philippines did most people think the consumer, not the producer, should foot the bill.

The survey came up with other interesting statistics such as a varying degree of knowledge of what is inside the humming box which sits in offices around the globe.

Only 13% of Poles accepted PCs and other electronics contain hazardous materials, while Brazil came in as the most clued-up, or suspicious, nation with 61% saying yes, electronics do contain hazardous materials.

Back in the business world, Dell pledged to phase out all bromiated flames retardants and PVC by 2009.

“Dell’s decision to remove these harmful chemicals reflects a move within the electronics industry in the right direction to become cleaner and it is clearly the direction that consumers want. Consumers not only want greener PCs they are willing to pay extra for them,” said Zeina al-Hajj from Greenpeace.

“Consumers also want the computer industry to live up to its responsibilities, and ensure that when products reach the end of their life, they do not become hazardous waste that contaminates the environment.”

Hewlett Packard, LGE, Nokia, Samsung, Sony and Sony Ericsson have already made commitments to eliminate the use of some hazardous chemicals in the near future.

Sam Bond

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