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Computer E-waste Tidal Wave

 

Where have the millions of old, unwanted PCs gone? Though most Americans are aware of the blistering pace of technological change and its dramatic shortening of the useful lives of personal computers and other electronic products, the fate of the growing volume of obsolete equipment has been mainly the subject of speculation, rather than research.

This study confirms what many have suspected, however—that relatively few old PCs are being recycled and that most are stored in warehouses, basements, or closets or have met their end in municipal landfills or incinerators.

The report, "Electronic Product Recovery and Recycling Baseline Report: Recycling of Selected Electronic Products in the United States", documents the results of the first large-scale survey and analysis of end-of-life electronic product recycling and reuse in the United States. The research, conducted by Stanford Resources, Inc., of San Jose, California, used data from 123 firms, including recyclers, third-party organizations that accept equipment for refurbishment and subsequent resale or donation, original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), and large corporate users of electronic equipment.

The study shows that approximately 20.6 million personal computers became obsolete in the United States in 1998. Of that number, only 11 percent — about 2.3 million units — were recycled. Stanford University estimates 500 million PCs will become obsolete between 1997 and 2007. The average life span of a PC has declined from 4.5 years in 1992 to 2.8 years in 2002.

Computers must be recycled properly. Circuit boards contain lead, cadmium, mercury and other hazardous materials. Computer peripherals such as a monitor, mouse, keyboard, cables, printer, scanner, and speakers should also be recycled.

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Computer ewaste recycling
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