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March 8, 2004

A PC Life Cycle Assessment [7:36 am]

Wired News: Short-Lived PCs Have Hidden Costs

What has the environmental impact of both an SUV and a fridge?

Here’s a clue: You’re using it right now.

It turns out your computer is a much bigger material and energy hog than previously believed. The most effective way to reduce its oversized environmental footprint is to increase its useful lifespan, according to a new book released Monday, Computers and the Environment, by the United Nations University in Tokyo.

[...] The European Union will require the recycling of all computers by 2005. Though it’s a step in the right direction, more needs to be done to increase the sustainability of computers, said Williams. Software license transfers could be made a great deal easier. And tax laws could be changed to allow write-offs for new computers over a longer period of time than three or four years.

Is the business model of this industry really ready for this sort of change?

Slashdot discussion: Manufacturing 1 PC Takes 1.8 Tons Of Raw Material, pointing to this InfoWorld article - UN study: Think upgrade before buying a new PC; with a link to the UNU’s IT and environment site, home of The 1.7 Kilogram Microchip: Energy and Material Use in the Production of Semiconductor Devices. Also we have this SFGate article on California’s regulatory situation: Junked laptops, flat-screen monitors now hazardous waste

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