WHILE AS individuals most of us try to do the right thing when it comes to the environment, governments around the world have found it necessary to enact legislation to address the growing volume of e-waste. We all want the latest and most up-to-date electronics and computers, which means that there is a steady stream of old equipment that reaches its end of life each year. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has published on its Web site the following statistics on the volume of e-waste generated in the United States:
▲ Of the 2.25 million tons of TVs, cell phones, and computer products ready for end-of-life (EOL) management, 18% (414,000 tons) was collected for recycling and 82% (1.84 million tons) was disposed of, primarily in landfills.
▲ From 1999 through 2005, the recycling rate was relatively constant at about 15%. During these years, the amount of electronics recycled increased, but the percentage did not because the amount of electronics sent for end-of-life management increased each year as well.
▲ For 2006 to 2007 the recycling rate increased to 18%, possibly because several states have started mandatory collection and recycling programs for electronics.
Clearly, government will have an increasingly active role in how we manage the end of life of our IT assets. While your local government may not yet have such regulations, the odds are pretty good they will by the time you dispose of the equipment you buy today. By knowing the potential legal issues that may affect your disposal choices when your computers and other IT assets reach their end of life, you can make better acquisition decisions today to improve your total cost of ownership.
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