Greener electronics

Thousands of new laptop and desktop computers will be unwrapped today, as will myriads of cell phones, mp3 players and other electronic equipment items. The end of the fiscal year for many companies is also looming, so that means even more electronic equipment being bought in order for departmental budgets to be spent and the tax writeoffs maximized.

What happens to the old equipment? Some of it is donated or resold, but some of it is dumped in local landfill which presents serious environmental threats. As for some of the so-called recycling programs major electronics companies have in place; they are a total sham; they just move the toxic waste from one country to another and use impoverished people working under dreadful conditions to reclaim some of the recyclable materials.

Thanks to organizations such as GreenPeace making consumers aware of  electronics related environmental threats and shady recycling practices; electronics manufacturers are now coming under increasing pressure to clean up their act.

Early this month Greenpeace released the Green Electronics Guide. It ranks the world’s leading cell phone and computer manufacturers on their approach to toxic chemicals and reclamation/recycling programs they provide for consumers.

In this release, Nokia and Dell have ranked as the top companies for their approach to the environmental impact of their computer and cell phone products.

The two bottom companies are Toshiba and Apple. If you use Apple or Toshiba products; consider using some of your consumer clout to exert pressure on these companies to clean up their act – email them, fax them, call them and let them know that you wish to see them creating greener products.

Read the December 2006 Guide to Greener electronics (PDF)