Tuesday, February 23, 2010

How to deal with E-Waste

I think we have to get beyond the handwringing about e-recycling (but it all goes to Africa, but it is never recycled, but but but) and think about concrete steps to improve the situation. The Guardian is reporting on a new UN report stating that the amount of electronic waste being created around the world may increase by as much as 500% within 10 years as consumer demand for products outpaces recycling capabilities. This increased e-waste poses a serious threat to health and the environment.

How to deal with this?
1) Urge local governments and consumers to recycle old electronics, rather than dump them. It's best to have these electronics reused in some way, such as through Gazelle, BuyMyTronics, Apple, or Dell. The DC government also collects e-cycling every Saturday.
2) Support local informal recycling, where valuable materials are scavenged for resale and reuse. Use our very own FreeCycle.
3) Make producers take back their electronics for recycling. The European Union is doing this through its WEEE Directive.
4) Make producers responsible for dealing with environmental damage caused by production, which would motivate them to redesign the production of computers. Most of the environmental damage is done in the very production of computers.
5) Create recycling facilities, including in developing countries. Computer Aid and Digital Links deal with end-of-life computer recycling in Africa.
6) Enforce anti-dumping laws.
7) Any other ideas?

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