When a massive country like China undergoes an economic boom, there is always a little bit of bad news to go with the good news.
For example, a company like China Information Technology, Inc., can make the Technology Fast 500 Asia Pacific list one month and then be in danger of losing its spot on NASDAQ the next. Or the country can experience a boom in Internet users, now estimated to be north of half a billion, but then deal with government censorship and control of content.
Or, Chinese citizens can buy millions of computers, only to be stuck with millions of tons of e-waste just a few years later.
That’s where IBM (News - Alert) comes in, with a solution to the problem that will be both a boon to the environment and an opportunity to make a little money.
This week, the international company will announce the opening of a plant in Shenzhen, China that will refurbish and remanufacture old computers for the purpose of resale. Experts estimate that this could become a $2 billion market within two years.
IBM expects the facility to refurbish 100,000 servers and PCs per year, converting over 33,000 metric tons of e-waste into valuable, re-sellable products, thus helping address China’s growing e-waste problem while at the same time finding a new source of revenue.
“The thing we talked to Chinese government about is that it’s really easy to buy a new computer but it’s really hard to get rid of one,” said Richard Dicks, general manager of IBM Global Asset Recovery Services. “We’re the first licensed facility and we have a first-to-market advantage.”
The IBM plant fits China’s newest five-year plan, which encourages recycling and remanufacturing of computers. This is aligned with similar legislation in Europe, where the European Union recently passed the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment law, which mandates that retailers accept small electronic items for recycling.