Yesterday's Christian Science Monitor ran a long story about the growing
>problem of E-Waste and E-toxics. It is enclosed and there is also a web
>>Here is today's CSM
>>Headline: Information Age byproduct: a growing trail of toxic trash
>>Byline: Alex Salkever, Special to The Christian Science Monitor
>>The Fry's Electronics superstore on Hamilton Avenue in Campbell, Calif.,=
>>a place where hundreds of Silicon Valley citizens go each day to buy new
>>computers and partake in the fruits of progress.
>>But there's another side to this technological revolution.According to
>>Santa Clara County officials, Fry's employees regularly find old computers
>>dumped on their doorsteps by frustrated owners who don't know how to
>>dispose of their machines.
>>Fry's and Santa Clara have company in this predicament. While Silicon
>>Valley is ahead of the curve, a rising tide of electronic junk nationwide
>>is casting a pall over the Information Age as vast quantities of computers
>>head for the scrapheap.
>>These computers and monitors contain dangerous materials, including lead
>>and mercury, yet experts say only 14 percent of the 24 million computers
>>trashed this year will be properly disposed of or recycled. With tens of
>>millions more computers nearing the end of their usefulness, the problem
>>has become a pressing concern for US officials and environmentalists, who
>>worry about what will end up in regular landfills and leach into soil and
>>"A computer is basically a box of hazardous materials. There is a
>>significant cost to collecting and disposing of computers," says Ted=
>>executive director of the Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition. "Local
>>communities are really starting to wring their hands."
>>The problem of computer junk comes from the blinding pace of technological
>>innovation. The speed of computer chips and the machines they power has
>>doubled about every 18 months for the past 20 years. In 1997, the average
>>lifespan of a computer tower was four to six years. By 2005, the lifespan
>>will only be two years.
>>While large companies generally arrange for disposal of their old computer
>>gear as part of any deal to upgrade their systems, few municipalities have
>>programs in place to deal with the silicon detritus. There are dozens of
>>companies and nonprofitsthat recycle or dispose of computers, but they
>>barely make a dent in the torrent of dead data devices.
>>This has led to a growing sense of urgency among local and state=
>>bodies that oversee solid-waste disposal.
>>"In most states, they just dispose of it and put it in the trash," says
>>Garth Hickle, a policy analyst with the Minnesota Office of Environmental
>>Assistance. "That is permitted, but there is a significant amount of lead
>>and other components that go in with these computers."
>>How much toxic material is really anyone's guess, but Smith estimates that
>>1 billion pounds of lead will enter the US waste-stream from computer junk
>>within the next decade.
>>The costs of computer garbage are starting to skyrocket. In Minnesota, the
>>state boosted spending on household solid-waste management, which includes
>>computer disposals, by 45 percent between 1993 and 1997. Each pound of
>>computer waste costs roughly 50 cents to dispose of, and most systems=
>>more than 40 pounds. All told, the costs could range into the hundreds of
>>millions of dollars over the next decade.
>>A handful of states have sought to recoup some of their growing costs by
>>giving the computer manufacturers the responsibility for funding the
>>disposal or recycling of machines that they produced. "Once the
>>manufacturers are financially responsible for those end products, there is
>>a built-in incentive for them to build products that are more easily
>>recycled and use less toxic components," says Mr. Hickle.
>>But laws putting the financial onus on the industry have generally not
>>caught hold in the US. Under heavy lobbying pressure from big business
>>groups, the Minnesota Legislature rejected a law this year that mandated
>>that manufacturers of computer monitors take responsibility for their
>>products at the end of their lifespans.
>>Similar laws have been rejected in other states. But the tide does seem to
>>be turning as more states, emboldened by the success of liability lawsuits
>>like the ones against Big Tobacco, are seeking to force industries to
>>For their part, the manufacturers point out that they do participate in=
>>underwrite many pilot projects to reclaim old computers. What's more, the
>>manufacturers often have little contact with the computer purchasers. In
>>America's mobile society,tracking down their products would be nearly
>>impossible. "The municipalities are in the best position to efficiently
>>collect materials from households and requiring the manufacturers to do it
>>would result in less material being collected," says David Issacs,=
>>of environmental affairs for the Electronics Industry Alliance.
>>To read this story online
>>(Shortcut hint: copy and paste the URL above into the location line of
>>To visit our home page
>Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition
>760 N. First Street
>San Jose, CA 95112
>>NOW AVAILABLE AT OUR WEBSITE -- New environmental justice maps
>Food for thought:
>How Gandhi Defined the Seven Deadly Sins
>=B7 Wealth without work
>=B7 Pleasure without conscience
>=B7 Knowledge without character
>=B7 Commerce without morality
>=B7 Science without humanity
>=B7 Worship without sacrifice
>=B7 Politics without principle
Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition
760 N. First Street
San Jose, CA 95112
>NOW AVAILABLE AT OUR WEBSITE -- New environmental justice maps
Food for thought:
How Gandhi Defined the Seven Deadly Sins
=B7 Wealth without work
=B7 Pleasure without conscience
=B7 Knowledge without character
=B7 Commerce without morality
=B7 Science without humanity
=B7 Worship without sacrifice
=B7 Politics without principle