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[Letters] Don’t throw out that computer: Green growth through reuse

June 03,2010
As environmental problems have seriously affected everyone over the world, being “green” has become a powerful issue felt across the globe.

Since the greenhouse effect has dramatically increased damages by floods and tidal waves due to abnormal climate changes, environmental issues are now everyone’s problems.

Therefore in Korea, since President Lee Myung-bak declared the necessity of “Low carbon, green growth” on Independence Day in August last year, a number of countermeasures for green growth have been devised throughout the whole industry.

In the automobile industry, the production of electric cars is rapidly becoming the better alternative to using fossil fuel.

Moreover, research on a method of construction for reducing carbon dioxide emissions by half is being performed actively in the steel industry.

Furthermore, goods which decrease electricity consumption considerably are being launched in succession in the electronics industry.

Such efforts are to hand down the happiness we get from nature to our future generations in the same way that we enjoy it today.

This is more than desirable.

However, it is also likely that we will need to reconsider whether this issue is biased or not. All the action plans are now focused on “future-orientation”: creating new products, technology or new methods of construction.

From a different perspective, a great amount of resources and energy are consumed in the process of producing new goods, which may lead to contradict the “Low carbon, green growth” target.

The better and more sensible first step is rather to manage existing products and use them efficiently before their durability is gone.

Information technology (IT) products such as computers or servers can be a good example of this.

Korea is nearly at the bottom of the consumption life of IT products over the world.

Almost everywhere existing products are immediately thrown away when new products are launched, even though they can be still used.

This shows that this is not only about changing individuals but also enterprises.

Products in good condition such as mobile phones, computers or server networks are treated as “abandoned” in two or three years.

In addition, manufacturers are even secretly encouraging to abandon secondhand goods to increase sales.

In the United States, Fortune Magazine conducted a survey with IT managers of 500 corporations and found that most have experience using secondhand computers.

This was due to cost reduction, compatibility with existing facilities and the unnecessary additional training, which means it is worth using the old product once more.

In practice, the secondhand IT market is expanding all over the world while it is still being given a cold reception solely in Korea.

The Korean secondhand IT market is poor and cannot even be given a calculated scale even though Korea is the world’s leading IT nation. This implies that our used-products are mostly thrown away.

There is no doubt that producing and purchasing eco-friendly products for “green growth” is more than beneficial to us.

However, we question whether we should abandon existing goods that are still usable instead of cherishing old ones.

For instance, a 50-year-old machine squeezing sesame oil is still operating at one mill in the countryside.

So why don’t we value old things?

It could be another brilliant way of green growth that will provide happiness to our future generations.


Changkeun Choi,

Director of Tradebin Division of Mytrademaster Co., Ltd.



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