Social-Justice Issues - Environmental - Study Guide  
Study Guide 
  1. Introduction

  2. At the rate that computer technology is currently advancing, most new computers are becoming obsolete in only two to three years after they have been purchased. Many old computers just end up sitting in closets or thrown in the garbage -- it is estimated that only 10 percent of them are actually recycled.

    Dangers of Computer Waste

Electronic equipment contains hazardous materials, such as lead, mercury and cadmium, which contaminate the groundwater supply if computers are discarded in landfills. Also, the computer manufacturing process poses many environmental risks. 
  1. What is being Done?
Some computer manufacturers, such as IBM, have programs to take back used computers (sometimes for a fee, however). In addition, there are many programs in place for consumers that will redistribute used computers or disassemble and sell the recyclable materials in old computers. The European Commission is currently attempting to implement policies that will require computer manufacturers to recycle consumer products and reduce the amount of hazardous materials in new electronics, however this effort is opposed by US manufacturers.
  • What can be done with old computers? 
  • Should laws be enacted to enforce the recycling of old computers? 

Index of Topics - Study Guide