Old Boxes Pose Hazard

By Timothy Dyck  |  Posted 2001-06-18


Ill bet most of us have nasty little secrets buried in forgotten corners of our buildings—rooms full of hardware junk just like this one at eWeeks Boston-area lab.

The IT industry has to take a much greater collective responsibility for its trash. Its not just filling up landfills; it can also be quite dangerous.

From toxic chlorofluorocarbons used until recently as solvents in chip fabrication plants to the approximately 5 pounds of lead in a monitor tube (CRT glass is 30 percent to 35 percent lead), IT waste is a serious hazard to the environment.

However, few companies seem to make any effort at recycling discarded hardware —only 11 percent of the 20.6 million PCs discarded in 1998 were recycled, according to the Electronic Product Recovery and Recycling Baseline Report published by the National Safety Council.

What doesnt happen voluntarily may soon be legislated. The commonwealth of Massachusetts has banned the disposal of cathode-ray tube monitors in normal solid-waste facilities since April 1, 2000, and the California Department of Toxic Substances Control issued a ruling in April reaffirming that landfill disposal of CRTs is illegal and that it is considering new regulations in this area.

The Electronic Industries Alliance, an industry consortium, has a list of state and national electronics recycling programs at www.eiae.org.

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