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 How are electronic companies trying to make computers more eco-friendly? What are the environmental benefits of reusing and recycling e-waste? What are the potential environmental impacts if we do not recycle e-waste?

Posted on Thursday, May. 28, 2009

E-waste is a huge environmental problem we are facing today. Many companies are working on reducing the environmental impact of their electronics because most electronics are difficult to recycle, contain a number of hazardous materials, consume a huge amount of energy, and create a lot of waste through the process of production. Apple has just developed a new laptop that is highly recyclable, uses less energy, contains less toxic materials such as arsenic and mercury, and has reduced packaging. Also, because the battery lasts longer, there will be less battery waste. As of recently, a new standard of measurement (Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool) has been created to rate the environmental impact of desktop computers, notebook computers, and monitors. The Dell Latitude D630, with Intel Centrino processor technology, is the first laptop system that met the gold status with EPEAT. One of the best ways to make a computer or electronic device more eco-friendly is lengthening the lifetime and durability, so they don't need to be replaced as often.

There is an overwhelming amount of health and environmental problems associated with the life cycle of e-waste, from the production to disposal. Not only is a vast amount of e-waste disposed in landfills, but e-waste results in massive amounts of wastewater and other hazardous wastes. Estimates suggest that 50%-80% of e-waste is shipped to impoverished, rural areas in Asia. Villages, rivers, and groundwater supplies become poisoned with this waste. Unprotected laborers are paid miniscule amounts to dismantle the computers, wihch releases incredibly toxic fumes that damage their health and the surrounding environment.

Tags: Electronic waste, Recycling process

 
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The Basics:
  • Recycling: paper, plastic (#1-#7), glass, aluminum, tin. Look for BLUE.
  • Compost: food waste, biodegradable material, (if it was once alive, it can be composted!). Look for GREEN.
  • Landfill waste: everything else! Look for RED or BLACK.
 
 
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