Here in France, all stores that sell electronic parts, for computers, dishwashers, or cell phones, HAVE TO take your old parts back.
I believe there's a similar arrangement here in the UK (is it an EU ruling perhaps?) but there's no incentive for the consumer to take products back, so most people just throw their unwanted stuff in the rubbish.
Disposing of obsolete PCs is a major headache for businesses though and there are hefty fines if they are caught not following the rules, so it's pretty clear why these "middlemen" have sprung up, offering to take old kit off companies' hands for much less than it would cost to dispose of it responsibly in the UK.
Everybody talks about green computing and low power PCs but recycling is part of the deal IMO.
Agreed. I think there is a tendency to concentrate on the benefits of saving a few watts of energy without looking at the bigger picture. I certainly think it is quite naive (or even wilfully ignorant) of us to invest so much thought and discussion into the 20-30W energy saving of switching from CRT to LCD when multi-kiloWatt luxuries such as running hot water, on demand hot food, central heating, personal transport, air conditioning etc. are considered everyday necessities by a large portion of the population. The fact that our "energy saving" purchases cause this massive surplus of unwanted goods to be disposed of in the worst way possible only compounds the problem.