Coming clean: Who pays for PC recycling?

A growing movement to recycle computers and other electronics has governments looking into ways to keep machines from ending up in landfills and becoming pollution threats.

2 min read

Who will pay for costly hardware recycling?

By Jonathan Skillings
Staff Writer, CNET News.com
May 10, 2001, 4:00 a.m. PT

First, there was the cardboard box in the kitchenette for old cans and bottles. Then, the plastic bin under everyone's desk for old print jobs and newspapers.

Will the next trend in office recycling be a Dumpster for old computers?

A growing movement to recycle PCs and other electronics has governments from King County, Wash., to the European Parliament examining ways to keep those machines from ending up in landfills and posing pollution threats.

Computer makers worry that government solutions focused on redesign, recycling and disposal will raise the expense of doing business--and the price tags of their products--at a time when they can ill afford such costly changes.

Regardless of how it gets done, some form of wide-scale recycling appears inevitable. The computer industry acknowledges that its products are becoming obsolete faster than it is putting new machines on the market--leading businessess and consumers to store tons of aging equipment until agreement can be reached on a way to dispose of them without doing grave harm to the world's environment. 


Conflict: A world
of problems

It is a classic case of regulators vs. industry. But this time, computer makers must do battle with governments around the globe.
Disposal: Too
hot to handle

All sides in the debate say recycling is a good idea. The question is how to treat highly toxic elements central to the products.
Solution: Redesigning
the PC

The ultimate answer to the problem of high-tech pollution may send hardware engineers back to the drawing board--literally.