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IBM's recycling program goes global

Businesses in Europe, Asia can net bucks for outdated computer equipment, company says.

Big Blue is going worldwide with an electronics recycling initiative that had been limited to the Americas.

The company's Asset Recovery Solutions program is now available to business customers throughout Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia-Pacific. The program is available to businesses of all sizes, from large enterprises to one-person shops, IBM said Monday.

Under the program, IBM will pay participants for their outdated computer hardware based on current market values or will sell the returned equipment on their behalf. Products are eligible whether they are made by IBM or a competitor. If a business has at least 25 units in good working order, Big Blue will handle the gear at no cost to the customer.

"Many customers do not realize that their surplus equipment can be remarketed. Nor are they fully aware of the risks of not retiring obsolete equipment properly," Daniel Ransdell, IBM's general manager for global asset recovery services, said in a statement.

In the last few years, PC makers have been stepping up their recycling efforts. It's partly a goodwill exercise that shows an environmentally friendly face to counter reports of old gear cluttering developing nations and threatening the environment. It's also a response to pressure from state and national governments, as well as activist groups, to take more responsibility for how "e-waste" is disposed.

In addition to IBM, other PC makers, such as Dell and Hewlett-Packard, offer similar recycling deals.

For customers worried that privacy and data security could be breached when their old machines get reused, IBM says it will clean data from disk drives with a "three-times overwrite process," making the old information virtually impossible to recover.

In 2003, IBM said, its asset recovery facilities processed more than 22,000 machines each week, and the company sold more than $1.5 billion of used equipment.