Friday, January 07, 2005

Where Old Computers Go to Die 

If you read last week's item on the gruesome environmental consequences of computer recycling in developing countries, the following will come as welcome news:
EBay Inc. and Intel Corp. launched a recycling program Thursday to motivate Americans to safely dispose of mounting piles of used computers and other electronic gadgets . . . .

The effort is centered around a Web site, at
http://ebay.com/rethink, where Americans with unused gadgets can get information on how to get rid of them safely. The site includes a downloadable program that will erase all data from hard drives, ensuring that the owners' financial and other data can't be shared . . . .

According to a study commissioned by San Jose, Calif.-based Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition, roughly half of all U.S. households have working but unused consumer electronics products. Roughly 400 million gizmos will be thrown out by 2010.

The gizmos, ranging from old MP3 players and home media centers to million-dollar servers at large corporations, can be resold. Or eBay will connect owners with charities, such as educational nonprofits that distribute used PCs to poor communities.

Or consumers can simply dispose of products at nearby recycling centers, which will be listed on the site. Rethink will only link to recyclers that promise not to dump the machines in landfills in developing nations - a growing source of environmental toxins in China and southeast Asia.
The S.F. Chronicle reports that the world's largest PC manufacturer has yet to join the coalition. Dell, Inc., is focusing on its own recycling program after years of criticism from environmental groups. (Attention, shoppers: did we mention that Dell is a major corporate donor to the Republican party?)

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