Will You Join The Eco-Crusade?

Get ready for another regulation-led shift in data center management

January 11, 2007

2 Min Read
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5:50 PM -- Once upon a time it was OK to stuff your unwanted hardware into a landfill (ideally on the other side of the world) and just forget about it - but not anymore. (See The Green Machine Challenge and Good Riddance.)

That's right, those pesky Europeans are on an eco-crusade to rid their continent of the toxic substances found in computer hardware. Given that we live in a global village, though, it will probably not be long before American firms have to rethink their own hardware strategies, with all the hassles and costs that entails.

While I am a supporter of Europe's Reduction of Hazardous Substances (ROHS) directive (I don't want my grandchildren wandering the streets in gas masks and hip waders), some serious thinking needs to be done before the U.S. goes down a similar route.

At the moment, there is no federal legislation specifically targeting computer and storage gear, and even state-level requirements, such as California's, are fairly limited in scope. That said, the consensus seems to be a question of when, not if, the U.S. follows Europe's lead.

There is a big question mark, though, about who will bear the costs for all this work. Vendors may have made their storage gear eco-friendly, but it's unlikely that they will be giving it away for free. As one storage manager told me today, "The big thing is cost and whether the government is going to lessen the impact of those costs."Whether this comes in the form of tax benefits or some other financial incentive is irrelevant. The most important thing is that the government, either federal or local, really puts its weight behind any future environmental legislation and gives U.S. businesses a reason to get on board.

At the moment, of course, this is all conjecture, but the last thing the U.S. needs is to lag further behind the rest of the world in the where sustainable computing and technology is concerned.

— James Rogers, Senior Editor, Byte and Switch

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