Monday, June 26, 2006

PC users 'want greener machines'

Consumers are willing to pay up to an extra £108 ($197) for a PC containing fewer chemicals, a survey has found. People also feel manufacturers should take responsibility for the disposal of old machines, the research shows. The study by Ipsos-Mori for Greenpeace coincides with an announcement by PC maker Dell to phase out a number of toxic chemicals in its products.

So-called e-waste is a growing global problem, with 30 million PCs being dumped each year in the US alone. The nine-nation research found that UK computer users were willing to pay an extra £64 ($117), while people in China were prepared for spend up to £108 ($197) for a more environmentally sound PC. [Hmm. Who did they ask? I find it hard to believe. J]

News item from the BBC.

My own work on the future design of televisions highlighted some important points for TV technology, as well as PC displays and electronic equipment in general. Disposal of old cathode ray tube (CRT) displays will be a major problem for the waste industry - the glass used is lead-rich and must be treated as hazardous. It is not suitable for landfill since the lead can leach out into water supplies. The current LCD technology may not be much better, since cold cathode fluorescent lamps are used for backlighting. These contain very small amounts of mercury, but put a lot of scrap LCDs together and there is a potential for the release of significant quantities of mercury to the environment. In the future, the use of organic LED (OLED) displays should reduce the environmental impact. However, the proportion of plastic in TVs and displays will increase and it will be difficult to identify the variety of plastics used so that they can be re-used or re-cycled appropriately.

Follow these links for information on the European Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) and the associated Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) Directives. These both apply to electronic equipment such as computers, TVs and displays.


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