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Dell and HP have a green moment

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HP and Dell have come over all environmentally conscious in the US this summer, albeit temporarily. Both companies have launched free recycling campaigns: HP's will run until early September, while Dell merely says its offer is available for 'a limited time'.

HP has announced a summer amnesty on all old computer equipment in the US and has invited consumers to bring old kit of any brand into Office Depot stores for free recycling. Dell, meanwhile, is offering to collect and dispose of old kit if you buy one of its nice shiny new laptops or desktops.

The moves come as the computer firms face increasing pressure to be seen as environmentally responsible. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, America now recycles 28 per cent of its waste, and points to a growing trend toward roadside collection schemes.

In Europe, the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Directive will make it law for all manufacturers of such equipment to take responsibility for recycling it at the end of its life. No such regulatory obligation exists in the US, as yet, but public awareness of the issue is growing.

Computers contain a variety of metals and chemicals - such as lead, mercury and brominated flame retardants - which are particularly nasty if dumped in landfill sites. Environmentalists in the UK, such as waste reduction lobbyists Waste Watch, believe that companies will have to design products that are easier to recycle, as environmental pressure increases,

Dell already runs a recycling scheme for any brand of used computer kit where the customer pays a $15 fee to have Dell come and take the old machine away. HP operates similar recycling schemes in several countries, often focusing particularly on its cartridges, the product line for which it attracts most environmental criticism. ®

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