eBay Forms Industry Group to Tackle E-Waste

By Matthew Hicks  |  Posted 2005-01-06 Print this article Print

At CES, the online auctioneer launches an online clearinghouse for reselling, recycling or donating used computers and electronics. The Rethink Initiative for "e-waste" is backed by a cadre of computer hardware vendors.

LAS VEGAS—Online auction giant eBay Inc. is leading an effort to encourage the recycling or resale of used computers and consumers electronics. eBay on Wednesday launched the Rethink Initiative and a related Web site at the International Electronics Show here. The initiative brings together major IT companies such as Intel Corp. with government agencies and non-profits to tackle the issue of so-called e-waste. A Rethink Web site provides information on properly disposing of old equipment, including by selling it on eBay. But the site also compiles links to partners that recycle equipment or accept donations for charity.
E-waste has become an increasing problem as consumers and businesses rapidly replace older computers and electronics. Gartner Inc. estimates that about 133,000 PCs are becoming obsolete every day in the United States.
Meanwhile, consumers will throw out about 400 million electronics each year in this decade, eBay CEO and President Meg Whitman said. When thrown into landfills, computers can pose environmental risks because they contain such hazardous materials as lead, cadmium, chromium and mercury. "We as an industry need to do more," Whitman said. "Together were helping to build awareness to safely dispose of used computers and consumer electronics." The industry initiative is only a first step toward tackling e-waste, Whitman said. It focuses on education U.S. consumers and business about e-waste options by tapping into eBays community of 125 million U.S. members. However, the plan does not address a major economic issue surrounding computer recycling: cost. Most recycling programs from PC makers, government and non-profits require consumers and businesses to pay a fee to recycle equipment. "Were not doing anything specifically to reduce the cost of recycling on the consumer, but were letting them know of the options they do have," said Patrick Jabal, director of eBays computers and networking category, in response to a reporters question. Read the full story on PCMag.com: eBay Forms Industry Group to Tackle E-Waste
Matthew Hicks As an online reporter for eWEEK.com, Matt Hicks covers the fast-changing developments in Internet technologies. His coverage includes the growing field of Web conferencing software and services. With eight years as a business and technology journalist, Matt has gained insight into the market strategies of IT vendors as well as the needs of enterprise IT managers. He joined Ziff Davis in 1999 as a staff writer for the former Strategies section of eWEEK, where he wrote in-depth features about corporate strategies for e-business and enterprise software. In 2002, he moved to the News department at the magazine as a senior writer specializing in coverage of database software and enterprise networking. Later that year Matt started a yearlong fellowship in Washington, DC, after being awarded an American Political Science Association Congressional Fellowship for Journalist. As a fellow, he spent nine months working on policy issues, including technology policy, in for a Member of the U.S. House of Representatives. He rejoined Ziff Davis in August 2003 as a reporter dedicated to online coverage for eWEEK.com. Along with Web conferencing, he follows search engines, Web browsers, speech technology and the Internet domain-naming system.

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