Re: [GRRN] number of computers sold

Ted Smith (
Mon, 27 Sep 1999 18:11:18 -0700

The Clean Computer Campaign is about to publish a brochure about the
growing problem of obsolete computers and the need to re-design our
information systems. Following is a draft of the opening section of the
brochure. References are avaiable if you are interested. Comments are

Ted Smith


There is a growing and imminent waste crisis about to hit the USA -
computer junk.

"I have discovered that they are excellent at collecting dust and holding
up bags of rice, but other than that, I am at a loss to know where to
unload this stuff."
quoted in "USA sitting on mountain of obsolete PCs" in USA Today, June
22, 1999.

Computer junk is growing at an escalating rate throughout North America and
consumers do not know what to do with it. Over three-quarters of all
computers ever bought in the USA are stored in people's attics, basements,
office closets and pantries. If everyone disposed of these, the US would
face an immediate huge waste problem.

A recent US study found that over 315 million computers will become
obsolete by the year 2004 - and this is an underestimate. Reliable numbers
were not available for the number of computers manufactured between 1980
and 1992 . =20
Americans are buying more computers than any other nation. Currently over
50% of US households owns a computer . =20

Computer junking is also happening at a faster rate. The lifespan of
computers is decreasing. In 1997, the average lifespan of a computer tower
was 4-6 years and computer monitors 6-7 years . This will soon fall to 2
years before 2005.=20

Industry experts predict that by the year 2005, one computer will become
obsolete for every new one put on the market . =20

Most computers that are disposed of are landfilled because only 14% of
junked computers are recycled or donated.

By the end of 1999, another 24 million computers in the United States will
become obsolete. Only 14 % or 3.3 million of these will be recycled or
donated. The rest -- about 20.6 million computers in the U.S. -- will be
dumped, incinerated, shipped as waste exports or put into temporary storage
. =20

For the three years between 1997 and 1999, it is estimated that some 50
million U.S. computers will have either been dumped, burned, shipped abroad
or stored to await eventual disposal. =20

Computer monitor recycling is no better. Over 300 million computer
monitors have been sold in the USA since 1980. Yet, in 1997 only 1.7
million monitors in the US were "recycled", and the majority of those --
about 1 million monitors -- were shipped abroad to countries such as China!

In 1998 only 6 percent of computers were recycled compared to the numbers
of new computers put on the market that year. In contrast, for major
appliances such as washing machines, air conditioners, refrigerators,
dryers, dishwashers and freezers, the proportion recycled in 1998 was about
70 percent of the number put on the market that year.=20

Of the small percentage of computers that are recycled, more than
three-quarters come from large scale users of equipment. Individuals and
small businesses contribute only a small fraction of the equipment that is
recycled because there are no effective collection or recycling programs
in place . =20

At 03:49 PM 9/27/99 -0700, wrote:
> I've seen a wide variety of figures quoted for the number of PCs and=
> televisions sold in the U.S. and in California in 1998. Does anyone=20
> know a definitive number and source for each, or the trade=20
> organization(s) that might? I've searched with no success.
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> GreenYes is archived on the GrassRoots Recycling
>Network web site:
Ted Smith
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