Sunday, March 18, 2012

First Licensed Server Refurbishing Plant Opened in China by IBM

IBM buildingLast month, IBM announced that it had just opened its first facility in China with the main purpose of refurbishing and reselling old computer servers. Financially, this is a great move for IBM as the market for refurbishing and reselling computer servers is expected to increase to $2 billion in China by 2014.

The United States and Europe's exporting of electronic waste to Asia over the past 20 years has brought up some major concerns about the impact this has on local environments as well as the low-paid workers who are in charge of dismantling the toxic-heavy computers and other components to recover valuable metals and parts.

However, the increasingly profitable economy in China has created a significant e-waste problem of its own. China's government even has a 5-year economic plan that encourages recycling and remanufacturing computers in order to keep them out of landfills. According to General Manager of IBM Global Asset Recovery Services Richard Dicks, "In China, they'll use them for five, seven or nine years and they're basically landfill when they come out."

IBM's plant opened back in February in Shenzhen, very close to another IBM factory. The factory is expected to refurbish 100,000 servers and PCs every year by 2014. This feat will be accomplished by installing new memory and storage and packaging them for resale to the domestic Chinese market. According to Dicks, "The Chinese market is huge from a server perspective."

The supply of old servers came mainly from China as equipment leases expired and customers started to turn in old machines and equipment. IBM also operates other refurbishing plants around the world, taking in 33,000 metric tons of old equipment every week. That diverts nearly 97% of the weight of old machines away from landfills according to IBM.

Dicks also stated that IBM had also been negotiating with the government in China for the last 2 years to license the Shenzhen refurbishing plant and that he expects IBM's competition to eventually establish their own facilities. "The thing we talked to the Chinese government about is that it's really easy to buy a new computer but it's really hard to get rid of one. We're the first licensed facility and we have a first-to-market advantage," Dicks said.

Source: Forbes - IBM Opens China's First Factory To Refurbish Old Computers, Tapping A $2 Billion Market

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