This study conducted by Ipsos-Mori (PDF) on behalf of Greenpeace International of consumers in nine countries finds consumers are generally willing to pay more for an environmentally-friendly PC, as opposed to a less-expensive machine containing more toxic chemicals and other components which end up as hazardous waste.
Ipsos Mori interviewed roughly 1,000 people in each of nine countries (India, Great Britain, Thailand, China, Mexico, Poland, the Philippines, Brazil, and Germany) and found, in countries where PC ownership of survey respondents was high enough to be statistically signficant, consumers would pay from $58 to $226 extra for a more environmentally friendly PC. the survey also found that some 49 percent of respondents feel that manufacturers should bear responsibility for hazardous waste from discarded PC and electronics products.
One item I hear over and over again is that no one wants to pay for sustainability. This usually comes from the fact that people concentrate on the environmental aspect of sustainability, when in fact there are three facets to the term - environmental, economic, and social. When I hear this, I always ask the questions "Don't you invest in your company?" (yes) , "Don't you invest in your employees?" (yes), "Don't you want to invest in a system that makes the companies and employees possible?" Dull thuds in the room.
Sustainability has always been viewed as an expense because it was an expense. Why pay for something when you can free ride on cheap electric, subsidized gasoline, free landfill space, etc., etc. This was our fathers' world, our grandfathers' world. But these things are things of the past, with energy prices soaring, $75 a barrel oil, and ever increasing disposal fees, no one wants to live in that reality anymore. Economically, few people can. Socially, they don't want to. Environmentally, it's the necessary thing to do.
Joe Bloggs chooses sustainability for three reasons, not just one.