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Recycle Fee For Each PC? 326

UncleJosh writes: "The New York Times (free reg rq'd) has a story about a $25-30 fee to be added to the price of a new PC to cover the cost of recycling it. Sort of like a bottle deposit, but you don't get the money back." What if I just want to buy the case?
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Recycle Fee For Each PC?

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  • Strange. (Score:5, Funny)

    by NoMoreNicksLeft ( 516230 ) <john@oyler.comcast@net> on Monday April 22, 2002 @06:14PM (#3390897) Journal
    Politicians don't have to pay a recycle tax for each stupid piece of boneheaded legislation they keep recycling from election year to election year.
    • No doubt if this law was passed in the EU we'd end up with computer mountains for five years until somebody finally figures out you need to build somewhere to recycle them. Its already happened with fridges & if the manufacturer's moaning about WEEE (I've forgotten what it stands for) is to be believed it'll happen to computers too.
  • What if you only ever buy componants... does this mean that you are paying a deposit on all the parts that you purchase...???

    first post... I think...

  • by hij ( 552932 ) on Monday April 22, 2002 @06:15PM (#3390910) Homepage
    Does this mean I can take my machine to Michigan and get my $25 deposit back?
    • I like the concept: you put down a deposit on each computer. You get it back when you turn it in. The difficulty is in verification: you have to turn in the computer that went with a deposit. That in turn requires an expensive verification system (for example, checking serial numbers on motherboards). Overall, though, it might work.
    • Yes, but in order to make a profit you'd have to get a free truck from your neighborhood mailman.
  • freegeek it (Score:3, Informative)

    by ftide ( 454731 ) <nickwinlund@gmail.com> on Monday April 22, 2002 @06:16PM (#3390920) Homepage Journal
    why not goto FreeGeek [freegeek.org] if you're in portland, ore. area
    • Re:freegeek it (Score:5, Informative)

      by AnarchySoftware ( 2926 ) on Monday April 22, 2002 @09:35PM (#3392091) Homepage Journal

      OK. I work at FREE GEEK [freegeek.org] and we reuse and recycle a lot of these gizmos.

      Monitors are the worst

      Here's what currently has to happen to a monitor to dispose of it safely and responsibly (without shipping it to Asia). Note: We're on the west coast, USA:

      • Drop monitor off at FREE GEEK
      • We gather and test the monitors. It's far more efficient to re-use when possible. But some are broken or so obsolete that no one will touch them.
      • Those that can't be re-used get palletized and shipped to somewhere in Washington State where they are disassembled. This costs us $8.00 / CRT, plus shipping.
      • From Washington State, the leaded glass gets shipped off to a smelter in Pennsylvania. That's the closest place to domestically handle this kind of glass. This requires a trainload of glass to make it worth the while.

      Now, we could try to cut costs by doing some of the work ourselves. (We already do the testing.) But:

      • Wanna disassemble a monitor? Their innards are coated with a fire retardant that you can absorb into your blood stream through the skin. Their capacitors can electrocute you. This is not a minimum wage type job here.
      • Wanna have a lead smeltering operation in your neighborhood? (I didn't think so.)

      Same story goes for TVs, BTW.

      There's a lot of stuff in the computer that's worth pulling out (gold, paladium, tantalum). There's some stuff that's break even (most of the other metals). But a lot of it is just expensive to deal with.

      These proposed deposits are not hidden costs. The real hidden cost (from the consumer's point of view) is the tax that he'll have to pay a decade down the line to clean up the water supply, etc.

      ...

  • recycle? (Score:3, Funny)

    by rastachops ( 543268 ) on Monday April 22, 2002 @06:17PM (#3390922)
    You mean people throw PCs away?!?
    • Re:recycle? (Score:3, Funny)

      by yobbo ( 324595 )
      I'm as surprised as you.

      I just thought they got banished to geek's basements where they spend the rest of their lives running sendmail.
      • Re:recycle? (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward
        I used to be one of those geeks.

        An old 386 running DNS. A 486 running sendmail. Another 486 router/firewall. A Pentium 60 webserver.

        Then I blew $250 on a Duron 800 board and midtower case and consolidated all the services on it.

        Guess what? It paid for itself in just a few months due to lowered electric bills!

        And my office is quieter and more spacious.

        Beware false economy.
    • Re:recycle? (Score:3, Funny)

      by Servo5678 ( 468237 )
      I have an old 486 with Windows 3.1 sitting under my bed just waiting for the day that I call it back into action.

      Patience, my dear, patience...

  • by Khaed ( 544779 )
    As I'm sure a horde of people are going to say: That's not fair.

    But, what if you just buy parts? Do they seriously think someone would pay $24-30 for like a $50 set of RAM chips?

    And, what if I don't plan on "recycling" my computer? Say in ten years, nothing around will play a game I buy in a week, and I have a computer that plays it? Do they take that money off my computer price if I promise to keep it forever?

    Sounds to me like it's just a crock. I can't think of any reason to get rid of a working old computer. If it can run Linux, it could be a firewall or something. If it can run old DOS games(with sound), hell, I'd keep it.
  • So for each styrofoam cup, there'll be what, like a $5,000 recycling fee?

    Really, computer cases are the least of our environmental worries...

    • Re:Styrofoam (Score:3, Insightful)

      by /dev/trash ( 182850 )
      Really, computer cases are the least of our environmental worries...

      Given a choice between styrofoam or mercury and cadium, I'd take styrofoam

      • Given a choice between styrofoam or mercury and cadium, I'd take styrofoam

        Yeah, Minimata disease (mercury) and "itai-itai (cadmium) are horrible diseases.

        Don't forget the lead either - the glass in monitors is up to 40% lead.

        Spent computers really are bad news environmentally.

    • it's a toss up between styrofoam and paper though.

      its a trade off between paper using 10 times more BTU's to produce a paper cup than styrofoam cup. And having something that will break down and can be recycled.
  • The only way... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Alea ( 122080 ) on Monday April 22, 2002 @06:18PM (#3390935)
    This is a good idea. The recycling is good idea and the only way to get it done is for it to be paid up front. If we legislated recycling but allowed aftermarket payment, we'd find the roadsides littered with abandoned PC's. The EU is trying (rather unsuccessfully) to do the same thing with cars.
    • If we legislated recycling but allowed aftermarket payment, we'd find the roadsides littered with abandoned PC's

      NO, it would just require budget allocation and more attention/money be paid to envirnomental issues, but who wants that to happen. We would not find roadsides littered with PC's there are plenty of /. readers ready to snarf up old machines and make a beowolf cluster out of them
    • This is a bad idea (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 22, 2002 @06:56PM (#3391157)
      It makes people say "The environment is expensive to keep. Stuff it!".

      Trust me, anyone who goes through _forced_ environmentalism _hates_ it. A city local to me (Guelph, Ontario) has forced garbage separation. I avoid even eating in the food courts there. I refuse to go trash picking. I ain't no hobo! After asking others outside that city what they think about that rule they usually say "Huh?", then "Oh yeah, that stupid city where I have to pick through my trash. Ugh!".

      Same thing here. I'd gladly pay a few extra dollars of tax money for the option of putting the old computer beside the blue box, or even pay a few dollars to get it taken away knowing its going to be reused.

      But if you _force_ me to pay directly, without any direct benefit to me (and not seeing my computer in a landfill is not a tangible benefit to most anybody), you've made me your enemy. I don't take being forced to do anything very well when it doesn't harm anyone else, and neither should you!

      I believe this is the reason the EU is having a hard time applying this idea to cars? Because people are tired of paying hidden taxes to support a bunch of soft-hearted-and-headed green thumbs?

      Oh, there's also the little problem of the fact that recycling certain materials is actually more harmful to the environment (energy usage and byproduct wise) than making them in the first place (eg: Can recycling plan hooked up to a coal/gas power station).

      And no, we wouldn't find the roadsides littered with cases at all. Very few people throw anything out like that (speaking from personal experience). Example: Most everywhere you have to dispose of old paint specially. As someone living in the country (which is usually a popular dumping ground) the worst I've EVER seen around here is a set of tires. Never any paint cans. Why? Because the paint cans can usually be left at the curb for pickup, unlike tires. I've never once seen an old computer tossed out randomly here because these can either be left beside your garbage or at a dump.

      The answer is to make recyling paletable and easy, never _force_. _Force_ is exactly why you don't get voted in and is exactly why you never get into government in the first place. (ever seen someone choose to vote for someone by choice in a democracy? :-)
      • It makes people say "The environment is expensive to keep. Stuff it!".

        The man speaks the truth in everything he wrote. I would mod you up if I hadn't disabled moderating for my account. :)

      • by Alea ( 122080 ) on Monday April 22, 2002 @08:24PM (#3391676)
        That's funny... I actually live in Guelph, the city with the "stupid" garbage separation. It's no problem in my household and I don't go picking through garbage. In fact, on the rare occasions when one has accidentally thrown something away it's much nicer because you probably threw it in the dry and don't have to navigate around coffee grounds, etc.

        "I don't take being forced to do anything very well when it doesn't harm anyone else, and neither should you!"

        What, like paying taxes for roads and fuel? You're forced to do that because it's part of your public responsibility. Why should the environment be any different? The fact is that very few people will voluntarily pay for environmental benefits using the same short-sighted "doesn't harm anyone" reasoning you've applied.

        • You're forced to do that because it's part of your public responsibility. Why should the environment be any different? The fact is that very few people will voluntarily pay for environmental benefits using the same short-sighted "doesn't harm anyone" reasoning you've applied.

          THANK YOU.

          That was about the most conscise argument I've heard all day.

      • by Jeremi ( 14640 ) on Monday April 22, 2002 @08:32PM (#3391731) Homepage
        I don't take being forced to do anything very well when it doesn't harm anyone else, and neither should you!


        If you think spreading lead and other poisons around the countryside isn't hurting anyone else, then you haven't thought things through.


        Oh, there's also the little problem of the fact that recycling certain materials is actually more harmful to the environment (energy usage and byproduct wise) than making them in the first place


        That is debatable, but somewhat orthogonal to the issue at hand -- the important thing is that the computer parts don't end up spread all over the country, leaking into the ground water, or being burned into the air in China. So the goal here is to make sure they are collected and dealt with safely; whether that means recycling them or just sequestering them in a safe location is a separate issue.


        The answer is to make recyling paletable and easy, never _force_.


        Nobody is proposing forcing anyone to recycle anything here. On the other hand, when you choose to recycle your old PC, under this plan, you won't be charged to do so. An improvement on this plan would be to charge $10 more on top of the recycling cost, and give that back to the consumer when s/he recycles their computer; this would be a further incentive to bring the computers in instead of just dumping them somewhere.


        Note how well a similar system works for income taxes... by giving people a refund check every year, the IRS encourages everyone to send in their tax forms on time. Even though people were charged more up front, and thus aren't really getting any money, they feel like they are getting something out of doing the right thing.

      • by Mike_K ( 138858 )
        I disagree.

        You bring up Guelph as an example. While I haven't been in Guelph lately (I'm from Toronto), I agree that getting people to separate their garbage is a bad idea, because they won't do it (or at least won't like it). The difference between that and this is that garbage separation is done after the fact and not up front. If you had to pay an extra quarter and they had somebody else separate the garbage for you, you'd do it and be glad that your quarter is being spent responsibly (to help the environment).

        Secondly, you bring up EU. While I don't know anything about EU recycling cars, I believe that in Germany the manufacturers had to guarantee recycling of major appliances. This caused manufacturers to redesign their products so they contained less materials and were easier to recycle. The result were CHEAPER appliances that were more environmentally friendly.

        You see, the problem with this legislation is not that it's up front and doesn't rely on people's good will and knowledge of the system. The problem is that it's not up front enough. This is more of an end-of-pipe approach than a solution to the real problem.

        The government should make every manufacturer and importer pay out of their pocket a fee for transporting the equipment to their recycling facilities and make them recycle it. The result would be that the recycling fee would become included in the cost of the equipment, but it would be up to the manufacturer's ingenuity to reduce the cost and thus make their products cheaper. Creating a flat fee only allows the manufacturers to continue producing products that are not friendly and point their finger at the government and say "But they will recycle it!".

        Remember, necessity is a mother of all inventions.

        m
      • "....Same thing here. I'd gladly pay a few extra dollars of tax money for the option of putting the old computer beside the blue box, or even pay a few dollars to get it taken away knowing its going to be reused.

        But if you _force_ me to pay directly, without any direct benefit to me (and not seeing my computer in a landfill is not a tangible benefit to most anybody), you've made me your enemy. I don't take being forced to do anything very well when it doesn't harm anyone else, and neither should you!..."

        1st you say here its better to finance recycling through hidden taxes.

        "...I believe this is the reason the EU is having a hard time applying this idea to cars? Because people are tired of paying hidden taxes to support a bunch of soft-hearted-and-headed green thumbs?..."

        Now you are saying its bad to pay for recycling with hidden taxes.

        Make up your mind.
      • Its just a matter of throwing the household garbage in the right bin.

        The rectangular black bin for bottles 'n cans.

        The yellow wheelie bin for paper 'n cardboard.

        The green wheelie bin (or compose heap) for garden refuse & foor scraps.

        The grey bin for everything else.

        The grey bin goes out once a week, the green bin with it every fortnight, the yellow 'n black bins every other fortnight. The black bin is designed so it can sit inside the yellow bin for transportation. So it just means wheeling out 2 bins one night a week instead of 1 bin.
      • I avoid even eating in the food courts there.

        Then their goal of cutting down on garbage sprawal is succeeding. Fast food usually comes with an awful lot of stuff to throw away.
    • It doesn't make sense:

      I would expect to get *paid* to recycle something. Getting paid for recycling means that the effort which went into recycling has value to society - when you do something that creates value for society, you expect to get paid.

      When you do something that costs the society resources, you expect it to cost you something. Now, if it *costs* the consumer money to get the computer case recycled, it means that it costs more resources to recycle the case than what the product produced as a result of recycling is worth.

      Which means that, on the balance, recycling *costs* the world resources. Which means that (in this case at least), recycling is a bad idea.

      The other explanation is that the consumer is providing a subsidy to a company somewhere in the food chain...
  • i saw a story a while ago about the cost of recycling PCs, and how america just ships them off to africa or something cause they are hazardous to just bury or burn.

    IS THIS MY PROBLEM?! no. if i pay the fee, and still just throw the PC in the dumpster, my money never went towards the cause of recycling it, just the cost in general.

    america is retarded.
    • In the America I live in, we have the means to recycle most of the PC, except the CRT. I once toured a site run by HP (in Roseville, CA) that grinds the things up and sorts out the plastics, metals, etc. You could drive a car into this machine they have and it would be able to recycle it. Among other things, they use the resulting stuff to make flooring, but they have to send the CRTs to Canada to be taken care of for some reason, IIRC. I think they have to burn them up in a highly contained fire of some sort. Sort of like a cremation process for your monitors, I guess.
      • The New York Times had an interesting article a few months ago about the fact that most PCs "recycled" in the US are shipped to Asia, where the valuable metals are stripped out while the rest are left to contaminate the ground and water.

        I think the article can be purchased here:

        http://query.nytimes.com/search/abstract?res=F5091 EF83E5E0C708EDDA80994D8404482 [nytimes.com]

        but I have not paid to view old NYTimes articles yet, and so can't be sure.

        (Someday soon I will. Just not tonight.)
        • this is exactlly what i was talking about. that machine that HP has costs more than the product it produces (sorts) is worth. and just throwing the product away is hazardous. so we ship it.

          now they are going to make me pay for the difference of operating costs and value of product. that is NOT fair. i am all for preserving the earth and shit, but companies just can do this shit. it is the same thinking that lets sports team TAX their state, so they can buy a new stadium. they are a PRIVATE business funded by public tax money. why doesn't my business get tax funding?!

          again: america is retarded.
      • > You could drive a car into this machine they
        > have and it would be able to recycle it.

        (grind grind grind) In this bucket, the metal. In this bucket, the plastic. In this bucket, the body parts. In this bucket, the glass...

  • You mean people actually throw their computers out? None of my computers have ever hit the trash in many-o-years.
  • And then we'll end up with one company not only collecting that extra $25-$30, but also charging Joe Schmoe an additional $45 to dispose of his PC.

    This is what has happened with bottles. I don't know about anywhere else other than here in the bay area, but now, scavenger companies are charging to haul away recyclables.

    ---
    Keep you Eye on the Ball,
    Your Shoulder to the Wheel,
    Your Nose to the Grindstone,
    Your Feet on the Ground,
    Your Head on your Shoulders.
    Now ... try to get something DONE!
    • Sigh. The recycler/scavanger companies charge the city to pick up your stuff. The city charges you.

      BUT if the scavanger doesn't pick up your recyclables, then the garbage company does and tosses into a landfill. Figuring folks might recycle 30% of their garbage, the city (and you) save 30% off of the landfill fee. Why is that important? Because landfills cost money, and the further the landfill is, the more it costs. And the faster you fill the landfill, the sooner it closes and they have to build another one, most likely farther away.

      So recycling means you're not making new landfills further away that are costing you more money to dump your trash.

      And by recycling your computer and monitor, you don't have to pay for toxic waste cleanup after the lead and other chemicals leech into the ground.
  • by krugdm ( 322700 ) <slashdot@ikrug.cDALIom minus painter> on Monday April 22, 2002 @06:20PM (#3390951) Homepage Journal

    I pay a fee for oil disposal when it gets changed. I pay a fee for tire disposal, when I change my tires.

    Personally, since I've never had to dispose of a computer (I still have all but one that I've ever bought, the other one I sold) Why should I get stuck with a disposal fee that I may never use?

    Why not just make it illegal to throw away monitors, etc. in the regular trash, then have a collection point with a fee for disposal, just like oil and tires?

    • There is a disposal fee for monitors and TVs to be paid at time of disposal.
    • Why not just make it illegal to throw away monitors, etc. in the regular trash...
      Because then you'd have people running underground computer junkyards.
    • Motor oil is a perfect example of why pay-for-disposal doesn't work. If you have to pay to throw away the oil properly, people will just dunmp it in the sewer and let it get into everyone's ground water. I'd prefer a system where you pay a deposit when you buy the oil, then get it back when you dispose of it properly.
    • Why not just make it illegal to throw away monitors, etc. in the regular trash, then have a collection point with a fee for disposal, just like oil and tires?

      For which part? You want a separate tax on everything? $10 for monitor x, which has 2.5 pounds of lead in it's glass (the old national average, btw), $15 for monitor y, $5 for motherboard z, etc.

      What if you break up your motherboard into pieces? What about some poor video card manufacturer that tries to be "environmentally friendly", do they get a discount?

      Plus, since everything will cost differing amounts, you want to actually drive to the drop-off location?

      Sorry, but this was thought of and discarded. While unfair for some people, it's not going to work. The simplest way is to put a single tax on systems at the start, and just drop it off at the curb later on.

    • This type of recycling fee is already built into the cost of rechargeable batteries.

      http://www.rbrc.org/licensee/

      According to this web site, 90% of rechargeable battery manufacturers are members of this organization. They recycle the batteries and they are funded by the battery makers, which means that a recycling fee is built into the cost of any battery bearing the RBRC symbol.
    • Personally, since I've never had to dispose of a computer (I still have all but one that I've ever bought, the other one I sold) Why should I get stuck with a disposal fee that I may never use?

      That computer is not going to last for ever, so you or a second hand purchaser will need to dispose of it. I don't see any problem with building disposal into the initial cost. It makes it harder to cheat, either by illegal dumping to save money, or by legal dumping (eg "donating" your hazardous waste to someone who can't afford to get rid of it)

  • Gee, another tax. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Tackhead ( 54550 ) on Monday April 22, 2002 @06:20PM (#3390954)
    Let's see, the $25-35 per "computer" (CRT? Case? Motherboard? Individual card?) tax goes to funding a recycling programme.

    If that meant I could plunk my old box on the sidewalk and let it be picked up by the recyclers (garbage crew, because it ain't recyclable), sure.

    But what do you want to bet that "since there's a recycling programme, we can ban picking it up at the curbside", the way they have in California?

    In other words, I pay the tax, and I still can't throw away the boat anchor? The only difference I can see here is that some preferred contractor gets a cushy pork-barrel project.

    • by aaarrrgggh ( 9205 )
      It's hazardous waste!

      8 Pounds of lead in a CRT, for starters! The stuff can not go into landfills (or into the sea if that is what you prefer)!

      This is perfectly reasonable. The alternative is for people to just mothball everything in their homes and offices, similar to the program for dealing with waste from nuke power plants.

      No, it isn't recycling (for the most part); this is about internalizing the costs.

      Unfortunately, the computer (and consumer electronics as a whole) industry lives on a product cycle of a few years, and the products are a little bit harder on the environment than styrofoam cups.

    • Re:Gee, another tax. (Score:4, Interesting)

      by wirefarm ( 18470 ) <jim@m[ ].net ['mdc' in gap]> on Monday April 22, 2002 @07:18PM (#3391252) Homepage
      Where I live, if you want to throw away a PC or a monitor, you have to buy special stamps that say that you've paid your "disposal fee" or whatever.
      Then you can just put it on the curb once a month.
      The trash guys see the stamps on the stuff and know that it's ok to pick up - otherwise you get a visit from the local police and a fine, I think.

      (So, if you find a PC on the curb in Tokyo, leave the stamps on - that way you save a few bucks if you ever decide to pitch it later...)

      Cheers,
      Jim
    • In most places, if you stick your computer out on the sidewalk, it will disappear NOW. And it doesn't even require a fee. The problem goes away ALL BY ITSELF.

      This method also works well with disposing of TV sets, stereos, VCR's, and unopened alcoholic beverages.

      -Restil
    • Let's see, the $25-35 per "computer" (CRT? Case? Motherboard? Individual card?)

      Yeah, that's a bit confusing. But, as another post points out, this stuff is hazardous waste: it seems reasonable to implement a recycling fee on monitors in particular. But ICs also contain trace amounts of hazardous chemicals, so products that contain them could also be taxed, albeit much less; maybe $10 for the CRT and $1 for each IC-containing product, so you get a total of like $20 per box.

      Under that logic, the cases would remain untaxed as they're just big peices of steel. I don't know, I wouldn't feel bad about paying it if that meant the lead and arsenic and whatnot would be reused instead of ending up in a landfill.

  • because the electronic components have become extremely poisonous.

    But the price must be variable and depending on the estimated disposal cost of the individual equipment. Otherwise there would be no incentive to make 'cleaner' boxes.

    Just my 2 cents
  • by tongue ( 30814 ) on Monday April 22, 2002 @06:21PM (#3390960) Homepage
    Personally, I have no problem with this, as long as recycling centers are widely and easily available. I have half a dozen cases and a few boxes worth of broken parts I can't do anything with (and yes, I've tried donating them to a school or non-profit--they are even less able to use them than me) but I can't throw away because its unsafe for the environment. I would gladly pay an extra 20-30 dollars to finance being able to take this crap somewhere and forget about it and not have to worry about poisoning drinking water or wildlife. Look at it this way: at least microsoft (probably) won't see the money.

  • The article. (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 22, 2002 @06:24PM (#3390980)
    Posted anonymously to avoid being called a karmawhore. Stupid NYT registration.

    Responding to a growing problem of waste computer equipment, manufacturers and local governments have agreed in principle to set up a nationwide recycling program.

    Under the proposal, a fee -- perhaps $25 or $30 -- would be added to computer systems at the time of purchase. The collected money would finance a recycling program for computers and television sets. Most likely, the recycling would be handled by private rather than government organizations.

    The National Electronics Product Stewardship Initiative, the group that is coordinating the agreement among governments, manufacturers and environmentalists, hopes to have a detailed framework worked out by September. The program would be rolled out slowly over the next few years.

    If carried out, the proposal would be one of only a few recycling plans with national scope. For example, only 10 states have laws requiring deposits on cans and bottles.

    It would also be a concrete accomplishment for a specific environmental movement that has so far been largely theoretical in the United States. The movement, known as product stewardship, places shared responsibility for recycling products on manufacturers, government, retailers and consumers.

    "The message to the consumer when they are buying the product is that responsibility of it is not only in the use, but also in the after-use," said Scott Cassel, the director of the Product Stewardship Institute, which is taking part in the recycling discussions.

    Disposal of obsolete computers has become an increasing financial and logistical headache for local governments over the last several years. The toxic materials and the intricate designs make environmentally sound disposal expensive. For example, cathode-ray tube devices like monitors and television sets have four to eight pounds of lead each. Massachusetts has already banned cathode-ray tubes in local dumps.

    "Our local governments are in a real bind because they have such demand for recycling," said Maureen Hickman, a policy analyst with the Minnesota Office of Environment Assistance. "But some won't even start collecting because they are afraid if they open that door they won't be able to afford it."

    Hennepin County, which includes Minneapolis, has one of the most advanced electronics recycling programs in the country. The volume of electronics recycling in Hennepin County has increased about 30 percent a year for the last 10 years. The county, which has a population of 1.2 million, spent $1.1 million on electronics recycling last year.

    As a result of pressure from local governments, more than 20 state legislatures have introduced bills on computer recycling. Many of these would place responsibility for disposal on the manufacturers. Environmental agencies in California, Massachusetts and Minnesota in particular have been aggressive in pressing for recycling legislation.

    The electronics companies are also facing legislation in Europe and Japan that places responsibility on the manufacturers.

    Computer disposal has attracted public attention because of a recent report by environmental groups that 50 to 80 percent of American high-technology trash was exported to developing countries. The report described the hazards experienced by residents of China, India and Pakistan who are exposed to the hazards of electronic recycling.

    Manufacturers want to pre-empt a patchwork of state laws. "The reason we are looking at a national solution is because it's the only way it can work," said Kerry Fennelly, spokeswoman for the Electronics Industry Alliance, a group that represents manufacturers. "We have to develop a system where everyone plays."

  • by woodix ( 167920 ) on Monday April 22, 2002 @06:27PM (#3391006) Journal
    Obviously it's collected at retail but on every component you buy, at some threshold when the sum of your components is greater than their parts, just retail PCs or barebone chassis/mobo combos as well?


    I'm all for environmentally friendly PCs (a la the sandbenders portables in Gibson that are made from coral or some shit) but unless someone wants to tell me exactly where that 30 bucks per unit (and what constitutes a unit) is going then why should I ever buy another PC when I could just buy parts and slap it all together by hand.


    On the other hand, some things like monitors probably should have some sort of fee tacked on. Aren't the gases within toxic? Wouldn't the same be true for any CRT then? What about microwaves, thermometers or any manufactured good that is environmentally harmful?

    • "...Aren't the gases within toxic?"

      Nope, no gas in the tube, it's a hard vacuum; wouldn't work otherwise.

      "What about microwaves, thermometers or any manufactured good that is environmentally harmful?"

      Most of the harm from these comes from trace elements: Lead in the glass of the CRT, exotic cathode material, mercury vapour in industrial lighting, paint on the devices, lead in the solder of Circuit Boards, ad nausem. No argument, but where do we stop? Rubber dust in the enviroment from all those tires (where ELSE does the tread wear come from?), lead solder in copper drinking water piping, I could go on forever (and have gone on long enough:))

      The root of the problem is ultimately the consumer; sure, the engineers are pressured to make Planned Lifetime units by Sales, and Marketing pushes these new products each year. It's US, the consumers that feed this; I haven't purchased a new TV in ten years, my box is an old 486 that's been gutted and regutted; all the old components have found other homes.

      If we stopped being a disposable society, you'd see some fundamental changes.
  • I've got an idea! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Kymermosst ( 33885 )
    How about we pay the fee WHEN WE FSCKING RECYCLE IT!?? (IF a fee is necessary.)

    I try to recycle all of my computers in-house, that is, use the parts in other machines. Also, I only buy components in the first place.

    Who's novel idea is this crap? What's next, a recycling fee on imported clay objects?

    Personally, the last time I *did* get rid of some old Macs I had laying around, they went to the landfill, and I paid $9.
  • PC's versus parts (Score:3, Interesting)

    by bihoy ( 100694 ) on Monday April 22, 2002 @06:29PM (#3391017)
    One would think that the recycling fee, if implemented, would be charged on a per component basis. The CRT seems to be the biggest polluter followed by the power supply. I'm not sure about the impact of the PCB boards. A case without a power supply is basically sheet metal and some plastic, not much of a pollution problem.

    I'm all for protecting the environment and being proactive about recycling. If implemented properly I think the program would be beneficial and accepted.
  • Garage sale (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jafac ( 1449 ) on Monday April 22, 2002 @06:51PM (#3391138) Homepage
    Every old machine I've ever gotten rid of, I've done so at a garage sale or swap meet. I don't think I've ever thrown a piece of hardware away into the garbage. Working or non-working.

    Although I have some old ISA SCSI cards and 48-pin 4-meg simms I'm thinking of tossing. . .

    (Ironically, I've got about 250 megs worth of RAM in the form of 48-pin simms that are probably all perfectly working, but obsolete to the point of useless. I think they'd make good secondary storage if there was some sort of PCI card to plug em all into - they'd make a great RAM drive - they'd outperform disk).
    • (Ironically, I've got about 250 megs worth of RAM in the form of 48-pin simms that are probably all perfectly working, but obsolete to the point of useless. I think they'd make good secondary storage if there was some sort of PCI card to plug em all into - they'd make a great RAM drive - they'd outperform disk).

      48-pin simms? I'd like to see those. I've only ever seen 30, 72, and 168 pin simms.
  • by dewboy ( 22280 ) on Monday April 22, 2002 @06:57PM (#3391162) Homepage Journal
    Choosing my words carefully to avoid becoming flamebait:

    Why is it that when something like this comes along, the first thing we geeks do is complain about how stupid it is? We are a minority, we who keep machines long past their prime, using them to their full capacity as web servers, mail servers, firewalls, gateways, etc... The majority of computer waste comes from major corporations, who dispose of these machines after they have passed the point of obsolescence. The cheapest method of disposal right now is to have it "taken care of" (i.e. put in a landfill in China). See this site [svtc.org] for real info.

    Giving major corporations an incentive to recycle computers is an incredible step towards changing the way we deal with computer waste. Who knows, maybe the next step will be to device a whole new model for computer sales that generates less waste by creating more interchangable parts; rather than throwing out the whole machine every 1.5 years, companies can purchase core processing units that all machines use... distributed computing... but i digress.
  • by happyclam ( 564118 ) on Monday April 22, 2002 @07:08PM (#3391212)
    Computer disposal has attracted public attention because of a recent report by environmental groups that 50 to 80 percent of American high-technology trash was exported to developing countries. The report described the hazards experienced by residents of China, India and Pakistan who are exposed to the hazards of electronic recycling.

    This is the single most important piece of information, and they nearly swept it under the rug in the article. I saw a program about three months ago on one of those TV "news" magazine shows covering this problem.

    The used PCs being "recycled" are essentially shipped to third world countries. Peasants there then melt down the boards to "recycle" them. They essentially grab the parts that have resale value and let the other parts seep into the environment.

    The video on this program was disturbing, to say the least. A huge junkpile of cases and monitors, everything covered by the soot of the burning fires melting the boards... and the people doing all this completely unprotected in any way. Not even masks. The ground around the entire site had been poisoned beyond any possible near-term use.

    This program interviewed a clean recycler in the SF Bay area that said the costs of recycling locally in accordance with California environmental laws was very expensive but that this particular outfit never shipped anything overseas.

    Basically, this has to be paid for somehow. Right now we're paying in environmental capital in third world countries. If we want to recover that, then the payment needs to come from the profit margin of the machines, the consumers' payments, or the government (taxes). Your choice.

  • "Sort of like a bottle deposit, but you don't get the money back"

    So in other words, it's nothing like a bottle deposit.
  • As I understand it, there are enviromental nasty stuff in several of the components that constitute a typical pc. So pc's aren't so easely, and inexpensive disposed of.
    So there is a problem.
    A short digression:
    Almost all enviromental pollution are caused because, those that pollute finds it cheaper to dump their pollution where others must pay the bill, usually taxpayers or property owners, or just live with the consequenses.

    Another factor regarding pollution, and its cleaning up, is, that it is cheap to pollute, but expensive to clean up. And since most pollution is done with a economic motive, those that pollute, rarely pays the bill.

    So I believe, that economic incentives, like enviromental fees, is a good way to reduce pollution (which may benefit us all), is fair (since it should payed by those causing the pollution, not by the public at large), and most importantly; may cause a shift from manufacturing and consuming enviromental harmfull stuff, to, at least, lesser harmfull stuff.

    Back to the topic:
    So if such a fee should be imposed on pc's, it should be done in such a way, that it "hurt" components, that are the most envorimental damageing (eg. cadmium etc), but not those who aren't.
    Lets suppose CRT's are enviromental nasties, so lets "fee" them. But if some new CRT technology is not, remember not to leverage a fee on that.
    Or else there will be no economic incentive to change behaviour. It is important to keep that goal in sight.

    On most motherboards, there sits a tiny battery. I really don't know whether it is enviromental damaging or not, but lets assume it is, but a slightly more expensive battery technology is not.
    One can shurely predict, that all motherboard manufactures will use the polluting but cheap solution.
    But if the polluting solution becomes more expensive by fees, all the manufactures will turn on a dime, and start using the more enviromental friendly, and cheaper solution.
    Eg. At least older Compaq pc's had ATA-IDE cables, that were way shorter than the industri standard.
    Alledgely this was because, that when somebody really produces something in bulk, it pays of to save even a few yuans per produced unit.

  • by Brian Stretch ( 5304 ) on Monday April 22, 2002 @07:35PM (#3391353)
    ...is to encourage manufacturers to develop PCs that can be efficiently recycled. If someone figures out how to build a PC that can be recycled for less than the deposit amount and makes a profit, cool, the system works.

    Same idea behind the European car recycling deposits. It's more-or-less the same market principle behind the pollution credits program President Bush announced today, which is based on an existing successful program.
  • Personally, I think this is great. I mean, while I don't exactly relish having money tacked on to my computer, I'd rather pay $25 now than be drinking leaked chemicals down the road.

    Some of you Germans can verify me on this, but I understand that in Germany they've got a law that forces venders to take back packaging and recycle it (not allowed to incinerate/dump it). This has taken down their excess waste a lot. I'd love to see that be put into place - think how much foam and plastic crap comes with a moniter, much less with a computer (especailly if you put it together yourself and buy everything seperately). Less solid waste is always a good thing.
  • The only way, and I do mean the only way, to successfully implement recycling of anything is to require manufacturers to use recycled components.

    If you did that, the private sector would find a way to get old computers. If they had to buy them from you, they'd do it. You'd see the same fee of about $25 per computer (since this would raise costs) but you'd know where your money was going.

    Unfortunately, in the new global economy, this is not possible, since the US guvmint hasn't the power (well, it has the power to crush anybody, economicaly if not militarily, but not the wherewithal) to enforce such a requirement on foreign manufacturers (it'd be restraint of trade, or somesuch.)

    We end up dumping the stuff in Asia where it's manufactured, anyway. [bbc.co.uk] From whence it came, it returns. The best we can hope for is that the governments in Asia will do the sensible thing and start recycling it. Unfortunately, the PRC doesn't seem to be moving in that direction.

    Anything we do in the states, that doesn't effect what happens during the actual manufacturing process (which happens over there) is just to make ourselves feel better (except in this case it is a cynical ploy to avoid regulation) it accomplishes nothing.
  • by thumbtack ( 445103 ) <thumbtack&juno,com> on Monday April 22, 2002 @08:51PM (#3391858)
    Here's what you do...take your old system, the one totally devoid of anything you may possibly ever use. After dark, set it outside beside your car near the trunk. Arrange it to look like you just took it out of the trunk, set it down and forgot to carry it in. It will most likely be gone in the morning. If not, just leave it there a day or two, eventually someone will make it disappear.

    A while back there was a story on The Screensavers,(I looked I can't find it) where someone took a case filled it with concrete, and set it on their front porch. As I recall it sat on his porch for about 3 days, then it disappeared during the night. They found it about 3 blocks away, in a ditch.
  • Linux boxes don't go obsolete because they get incrementally upgraded, and the old parts are kept for emergency repairs or recycled into units for friends or schools which, because even a 486 runs a decent Linux Webserver, don't end up on the curb like M$ OS idiot boxen. M$ OS users also upgrade incrementally, but toss the old parts, and by about when they've replaced most of the box they upgrade the OS. So put the tax squarely on the M$ OS license. Further two social goods at once.
  • I'm pointing this out because I don't know the answer.

    20 years ago, you could buy a TV that would last a long time. Now a days, TVs seem to fizzle out in about 5 years. I know I've gone through a number of CRTs over the last 10 years that simply stop functioning.

    It was my understanding that manufacturers today produce CRTs (both for TV and for monitors) that are basically enginered to fail after a specific period of time. It just seems that as time goes on, the quality of these things just dies down.

    Does anyone know if this is true? Considering that A: CRTs have all sorts of nasty stuff that does'nt belong in the landfill, and B: if they kept working, a nice monitor can easilly be transfered from computer to computer during upgrades (the only time I've bought a new monitor has been after the old one just quit on me, despite number of computer changes.. I've never thrown out an old but otherwise functioning monitor).

    If my assumptions are correct, I'd be willing to spend an extra amount of money for a new monitor so as long as the thing would last longer. It would be nice if the government, out of concern for both the consumer and the envrionment, would look into this.
  • what was that about plastic bad for the environment? and how come I actually see more and more plastic being used?

    maybe improvements in the way electronics, such as computers are designed and used is in order.
    Rather than building in obselesence (sp?) ....... modularity in hardware is in order.

  • Didn't we already discuss this? Or will all US states have *their* article about this on /.?

    Doesn't matter, there were some good comments in this thread about the matter:
    California Considering Recycling Fees on PCs [slashdot.org]

  • Here's a "feature story" about it: (http://www.hp.com/hpinfo/newsroom/feature_stories / akeback.htm [hp.com]. The links in the article appear to be obsolete, but a quick search turns up the correct pages.

    Here's a link to their general recycling program for laser and ink cartridges and PC hardware: http://www.hp.com/hpinfo/community/environment/rec ycle/index.htm [hp.com].

    HP is a bit expensive - to take a single PC, monitor and inkjet printer they'll charge US$59. For more than 10 pieces (say 5 old PCs, 3 old monitors, and 3 old printers) they have a custom quote page, so I assume prices get lower from there.

UNIX was not designed to stop you from doing stupid things, because that would also stop you from doing clever things. -- Doug Gwyn

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