Computer Refurbishing Program
One of our missions at UjimaCare is to supply low-cost
refurbished IT equipment to nonprofits and underserved people in
developing countries. That in itself is good and useful, but a
surprising additional benefit of this is that refurbished and
remanufactured electronic devices provide the most environmentally
friendly way to acquire and use computers, copiers and other IT
The scientific basis for the environmental kudos refurbished
IT equipment receive is from Dr. Eric Williams of Arizona State
University in his book, co-authored with Ruediger Kuehr, Computers and
the Environment, Understanding and Managing Their Impacts.
In it they find that the environmental cost to produce a
computer and monitor is immense, especially for microprocessors.
Producing the average 53-pound desktop computer and CRT monitor requires
530 pounds of fossil fuels, 50 pounds of chemicals, and 3,330 pounds of
water. Adding additional life to computers saves 5 to 20 times more
energy than recycling over the computer's life cycle. It's much better
for the environment to extend the life of a computer for extra two or
three years than to buy a new one every three to four years.
The thing I found perhaps most interesting in the Williams
and Kuehr findings is that 75 percent of PC energy consumption has
already happened before a new computer is ever switched on. It is used
up in the production phase. If this equipment has a six or seven year
lifespan rather than three or four years, the environmental impact of
this for even a fraction of the 1.1 billion computers now in use in
world will be immense.
The green argument for electronics reuse goes beyond Williams
and Kuehr, however. Paul Hawkin, in his book, Natural Capitalism, finds
that the volume of material that goes into manufacturing a laptop is
4,000 to 1. When you discard a 5 pound laptop you are also throwing away
the 20,000 pounds of raw materials it took to make it.
The US EPA Electronics Environmental Benefits Calculator
shows environmental savings for computer recycling and reuse in terms of
energy, materials, CO2, toxic emissions, and more. It finds that it is
roughly 25 times more beneficial environmentally to reuse computers than
to recycle them at 3 to 5 years of age.
The environmental case for electronics reuse aside, one
question that always crops up is how refurbished IT equipment compares
with new equipment in terms of performance. Most of us have been
frustrated by using a three or four year old computer that takes forever
to start up and do simple things like open a Web page or send an email
message. The main reason for this is that over time, software degrades
or become corrupted, developing interoperability conflicts and many
A machine that is repaired, cleaned out, and has fresh
software installed that is compatible to its original parts pretty much
runs as well as the day it was new. One important thing to note is that a
four-year-old computer needs software that runs well on four-year-old
equipment, and not the latest software versions. The bottom line is that
most people do four or five things on computers: email, internet
browsing, accounting, multimedia (video and music), and office
applications like word processing. Three or four year old equipment does
all of that easily. At UjimaCare another of our missions is to ensure that the
refurbished IT equipment that we offer undergoes state-of-the art
refurbishment. UjimaCare is a Microsoft Authorized Refurbisher so every
computer we refurbish comes with a Microsoft COA (Certificate of
Authentication) software installed.
Our Refurbished Computer Program (RCP) supplies refurbished laptop and
desktop computers to nonprofits and public libraries, and underserved
people. The computers come with Windows XP and Office 2003.