The single biggest determinant of the cost of disposal of an item is how well it was selected when purchased. Some companies, like Hewlett-Packard, design their new equipment in such a way that it can be more easily disassembled years later when it is recycled. The U.S. EPA has a "Design for Environment (DfE)" standard that minimizes use of toxic materials.
A valuable tool for purchasing energy-efficient and easier-to-recycle computers is the U.S. EPA's Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool (EPEAT), available on-line at www.epeat.net. This comprehensive list evaluates the environmental impact of a computer prior to its purchase. EPEAT examines a device's conformance to 23 mandatory and 28 optional criteria, which includes energy efficiency, amount of toxic materials in the device, and even the packing materials used to ship it. This allows companies to purchase computers with the level of compliance that they desire. EPEAT benefits buyers by saving them from technically examining the total environmental impact of a wide range of equipment. It is the basis for IEEE 1680, the "Standard for Environmental Assessment of Personal Computer Products."
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