are you reading this particular article on? Most
people would reply "a monitor of course" and they
would be right.
what is your monitor made up of? What is your computer
made up of? While the majority of computer users
simply look upon their machines as jumbles of plastics
and metals, computers contain a number of toxic
materials including Chromium, Zinc, Lead and Tin.
a computer is in use, there appears to be very little
to fear from these toxic materials (though I have
yet to see any studies concerning this). When a
computer winds up in the landfill, however, there
is a very good chance that these materials will
leak into the soil and contaminate groundwater.
have been taken in Europe to make computer manufacturers
take responsibility for the products after they
have outlived their useful lives.
Europe has taken steps to produce accountability
and protect people from the toxic waste computers
create, the same cannot be said for North America.
agency in particular that has attempted to block
the European initiative concerning stronger environmental
measures for computer manufacturers is the American
Electronics Association (AEA).
AEA claims that the bill created by the European
Commission violate trade rules set out by the World
Trade Organization. The logic here, I assume, is
that more stringent regulations on manufacturers
harm US manufacturers by jacking up prices. They
specifically state that the prohibition of certain
materials will affect the "functionality, safety
and reliability of electronic and electronic products"
and "will impede the development of new technologies
find it surpassing that an industry that rhapsodizes
about "innovation" sees this piece of legislation
as an obstacle rather than an opportunity. Why not
take the opportunity to demonstrate that the "innovators"
of the computer industry can do more than just make
a dancing paperclip.
question remains--should computer manufacturers
be allowed to produce toxic products and then surrender
responsibility of their disposal to local municipalities
and taxpayers? Neither municipalities, nor the taxpayers
that pay for the disposal of these machines are
part of the decision-making process that the manufacturer
uses. Without this participation, how can taxpayers
be expected to pay for the disposal of chemicals
they most likely would have no wish to use in the
several of the larger computer manufacturers like
HP and IBM have recycling programs for their machines,
a vast number of North Americans do not purchase
name brand machines, opting for less expensive machines
built at a local shop. These companies cannot afford
to recycle their machines. Many, I suspect, do not
care what happens to the machine after the initial
sale. Should these smaller operators also be held
responsible for the computers they sell. Because
they are local businesses selling to a local clientele,
it's likely that they would be able to make a contribution
(monetary or otherwise) to the safe disposal of
the machines they sell.
the next time you boot up your machine for the last
time, think about where it's going and how best
to get rid of it.
Van Esch is a writer and instructional designer
living near Toronto, Canada. He is the owner and
CEO of the Text Pound (http://www.textpound.com).