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Recycling The First World, in the Third 609

simoncito writes "Ever wondered where that old useless printer ended up? BBC has a photo report about chinese villagers building ramshackle systems out of used and discarded first world computer parts. The effects on their surroundings are drastic - I never knew hardware was so poisonous." Worth a look if you aren't desensitized to suffering. Anyone know the proper way to dispose of a monitor?
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Recycling The First World, in the Third

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  • I always thought old monitors were supposed to sit around in your attic. Same goes for old printers.
    • "I always thought old monitors were supposed to sit around in your attic."

      1. If you can't use the monitor, then first look into local schools. I know that in Ontario, Canada, you can get a tax credit for donating used computer equipment to schools. My high school (according to my brother who still goes there) has about 4 computer labs for ~P100-266 machines from this program which still word process and surf fairly nicely.

      2. If the monitor is broken and the cost of repair is more than a comprable new monitor, then there will be specialised safe disposal facilities at must garbage dumps. Chances are you have to drive there and drop it off yourself, but it's worth it in preventing the Lead, Arsenic, etc from getting into the water.

      3. When getting a new CRT montior, make sure it conforms to at least TCO99 (there is a sticker) because these have environmentally conscious amounts of harmful chemicals in them, but should still be disposed of safely in the end.

      • by ( 121677 ) on Friday August 23, 2002 @02:50PM (#4128474) Homepage
        The problem with all that is that it takes effort. I'm sorry but for most people the money they save in a tax write off is not worth driving all around town looking for a school or dump that can safely take a monitor off your hands.

        Good Will and other thrift stores won't take any more monitors. At least, the ones around here won't. They've already got too many.

        It's kind of the same situation with recycling bottles and cans in California. I used to live in Oregon, where you can take your empty bottles and cans to any grocery store, any time day or night. Five cents for cans, ten cents for bottles.

        Here in California, you have to take them to a designated recycling center, which is open about six hours a day on weekdays. And there's only one in the city I live in, all the way across town. And you can take a hundred cans back, and you won't get jack shit because the redemption value is so low in California. And they don't give you cash, either, they give you a certificate that you have to take to a nearby grocery store or something, stand in line there, and then they'll give you your 90 cents or whatever it is you've got.

        I used to take my bottles and cans back out of a sense of duty. But I got sick of going down there on my lunch break (the only time I could go there when the recycling center is open) to find out that either

        (A) The recycling center was closed for lunch, or closed on Tuesdays, or something like that.
        (B) There was a long line of people returning bottles and cans, when it's my turn I get a certificate for 90 cents, which I then have to take to the grocery store next door and stand in line to claim.

        I started throwing my bottles and cans away. I feel bad about it, but Jesus Christ it's like they went out of their way to make it invonvenient in this state. In some cities (San Francisco, Oakland, Berkeley, Sacramento) you can throw cans into the trash and rest assured that some homeless person will pick them out. But in the suburban white bread town I'm stuck in at the moment? No way. Those cans are going straight to the dump.

        Same deal with monitors. They really ought to be recycled. So it'd be nice if it weren't such a pain in the ass to do so. I'd gladly support my tax dollars going toward recycling centers that took monitors and didn't completely suck. Or worked out a deal with grocery stores or someone else to handle it, like they do in Oregon.
    • If I remember... once a year the EE department at Purdue would toss CRTs from the top of a parking garage. Made for interesting pictures. Don't know if the tradition is still around, but it was kinda amusing.
    • You know, that really makes me wonder what kind of toxins I'm storing, I mean I really do probably have nearly two tons of old hardware (no I'm not kidding, and it's mostly significant peices, trs-80's, wangs, ps2 (personal system2 not play station 2), apple IIe, etc.) I like to collect this old junk because I can then go plug one in fire it up and transport myself back to the "good ol days" when a mouse ran on the floor, and a computer system weighed in at about 200+lbs with a printer. So I wonder what kind of toxins they hold? Surely nothing to worry about if I'm not trying to extract the precious metals from them right?
    • by Nogami_Saeko ( 466595 ) on Friday August 23, 2002 @02:02PM (#4127947)
      Argh, I have moderator points, but I must post ;P

      We need a new generation of "tech-hicks" who can leave old computer junk on their lawns instead of broken-down old cars.

      "That there is mah old Commodore 64! She don look like much, but she used to play a wikkid game o MULE"

      (from the house) "Billy-Bob! Yer new 200gig-o-bite hard disk just come from Fedex!"

      "DAMN WOMAN, go install mah raid server willya? Donna forget to stripe drives NTFS. None o that fat32!"
  • Anyone know the proper way to dispose of a monitor?

    Got thirty seconds?

    Google [] has a few suggestions regarding monitor disposal [].

    Question: What is the opposite of investigative reporting?

  • by slagdogg ( 549983 ) on Friday August 23, 2002 @01:41PM (#4127701)
    Two words ... Office Space.
    • ""Two words ... Office Space."

      I actually did this once.

      One time I was working as a co-op student technician at a university and there were a whole pile of really old non-working monitors and other boxen. I was given the task one day of disposing all of these in the dumpster, so I took them down on a cart and had a fun time dropkicking and lobbing them without fear of damanging something important. I actually grabbed one of the boxes out and tossed it in again just for fun.

      This was a fun change from imaging hard drives, building machines, software development, etc.

  • by Jeffrey Baker ( 6191 ) on Friday August 23, 2002 @01:41PM (#4127705)
    The proper way to dispose of a working monitor is to give it to someone who needs one. The proper way to dispose of a non-working or obsolete monitor or television is to take it to a computer recycling center, who can safely crush the CRT and dispose of the toxic plastic and electronics.
    • Referbishing is also an option. Replace the damaged part and sell it again at a discount compared to new monitors.
    • The proper way to dispose of a non-working or obsolete monitor or television is to take it to a computer recycling center, who can safely crush the CRT and dispose of the toxic plastic and electronics.

      Ummm yeah, and how do you think this crap gets to china anyway? Thats right... our recycling centers sell the material to companies that "process" the material, and sell it to other companies in China.

    • The proper way to dispose of a non-working or obsolete monitor or television is to take it to a computer recycling center, who can safely crush the CRT and dispose of the toxic plastic and electronics.
      Where does one find such recycling centers, pray tell? I assume we are discussing ones which are audited to certify that they actually recycle the stuff, not just hide it for a while and then send it to a landfill in Mexico.

      The reason I ask is that the US Navy has a regulation that their ships must be scrapped following strict environmental standards. They do about 10 a year at a cost 20 times higher than the standard fee for ship disposal. Everyone else sends their ships to India where they are scrapped using methods that are tremendously damaging to the environment ("PCB contaminated oil? Burn it off").


    • by R@Bastard ( 91524 ) on Friday August 23, 2002 @03:26PM (#4128834)
      I live in New York City. I had a monitor (non-working, beyond repair) to dispose of. I tried the following:

      1. I called about 10 computer repair shops, asking them what to do, and if I could PAY them to dispose of it properly. No.

      2. I called the City's garbage/recycling department to ask them what to do. They had no special information, and instructed me to put it out with the trash.

      3. I called the local branch of the EPA, asking what to do, since I know that it contains toxic waste. They said that there were no special disposal method that I could do, but that it was technically illegal for me to throw it away. I asked her what I should do... she recommended that I just throw it away.

      Yes, yes, I did do a Google search. This was 2 years ago, and there weren't any relevant results.

      I hope this is better now.

      It's a problem when someone like me, who spent about an hour trying to find the right thing to do, cannot find the right thing to do.
  • by Anonvmous Coward ( 589068 ) on Friday August 23, 2002 @01:42PM (#4127714)
    "Anyone know the proper way to dispose of a monitor."

    Ya'll should do what we do in Kansas. Whenever a TV stops working, we place the new one on top of the old one.

    If you have too many of them there telly visions, you can place them in your front yard. Move them around the yard enough, and you'll never have to mow it!
  • The shipbreakers (Score:2, Interesting)

    by sirdude ( 578412 )
    There's also an interesting article here [] which has been previously mentioned on Slashdot, that might be worth a read. Cheers.
  • Dispose of it. (Score:2, Redundant)

    by laserjet ( 170008 )
    For those who ask silly questions like, "Does anyone know how to dispose of a monitor?"

    All you have to do is make a little effort. If you call your local trash people, they almost always have a way to handle waste computer stuff, waste oil, etc. Unless you live in a small town or something.

    It wasn't environmentally sound in anyway, but the last monitor I "disposed of" was several years ago. I took it out into the desert and blew it to pieces with a shotgun and a pistol. I hope the environment forgives me.
  • I've been looking at that problem for a few months now. I have an old monitor, but I know damn well that you can't just kick it to the curb - the trashmen won't take it since there's the possibility of explosion/implosion, which is quite a safety concern. (After all, CRT's are just a big vaccuum - breaking that seal recklessly (i.e. piercing it) can cause some damage. Not to mention the possibility for electrocution via the capacitors or even a fire.)

    Usually, you can take your monitor to an appropriate dealer or electronics shop, where trained & certified technicians can safely deactivate, disassemble & dispose of the monitor for you. This is what I'm looking for right now.

    Now that i have a new LCD, I wonder if they're trash-safe - I haven't researched if there's any hazards concerning say, the liquid in the display, or any other chemicals.

    • "Usually, you can take your monitor to an appropriate dealer or electronics shop, where trained & certified technicians can safely deactivate, disassemble & dispose of the monitor for you. This is what I'm looking for right now."

      I'm sure there are public schools in your area that would be ABSOLUTELY THRILLED to take it off your hands, and possibly issue a tax credit in the process.

  • by JUSTONEMORELATTE ( 584508 ) on Friday August 23, 2002 @01:45PM (#4127755) Homepage
    Living in the People's Republic of Boulder, we have Eco-Cycle's Center for Hard to Recycle Materials (CHaRM) [] where old PCs can be dropped off for a fee.
    If you can't find the answer under "Recycling" in your local yellow pages, drop the folks at Eco Cycle [] of Boulder a line and see if they can hook you up to a network in your area.
  • I've seen articles like this before, and it is definitely sobering to see the effects of the things we throw away on others. But is this really our fault? Once I throw a circuit board away--courtesy of a company that specializes in technology disposal or recycling, no less--is it really my responsibility to make sure that no one is stupid enough to light it on fire and inhale the heavy metals in it? If someone tried this in the U.S., they'd be looked upon as an idiot and possibly a social and environmental menace.

    Clearly, what's going on in China shouldn't be happening. But give blame where blame is due--to the factory managers, who must be aware of the dangers of what they're hiring people to do. Don't try to pin this one on American consumers--for once, it's not our fault.

    • Does the story blame anybody for the problem? I don't recall that. Funny how you brought it up.

      Bet if you asked the guy who did the photo essay, he would describe "us" in a different way than you just did.

    • >Don't try to pin this one on American
      >consumers--for once, it's not our fault.

      I have to agree with devnull17 on this one. Recycling and reclaiming useful materials is not the problem. The problem is the method with which it is being done.

      The chinese have always been able to accomplish much with little. Evidence the railroads in the western half of the North American continent were largely built with bare knuckle chinese labor. Chinese built many airstrips with backbreaking labor even while the planes were landing on the strips during WW2. I don't think anyone can say the chinese are not industrious.

      But, labor is evidently cheap in China and, it appears, so is life. I suppose it is too expensive to provide a safe work environment and proper containment of the by-products of the reclamation process. So, let's just use these throwaway chinese to do the dirty work.

      I suggest that the owners of these reclamation/recycling operations are the one's who are primarily at fault as well as, secondarily, the chinese govt for allowing it to happen. Looking deeper, ultimately you may come to the conclusion that it is the chinese people's fault because they put up with their govt not protecting them.
  • So my question is, where do these piles of hardware come from? Specifically, I mean -- At what point in the chain do we hand everything off to a central supplier who sells it out of the country? Who are the companies? My local hazardous waste place is how far removed from 13-year-olds dipping circuit boards in tin and lead to "make them look new"?

    NPR did a story a while back about infectious diseases being shipped worldwide at new speeds because of container ships full of old tires. (Mosquitoes bred in water collecting in the tires, and the container ship system meant transport speeds were far greater.) Made you really think -- our waste is a desirable commodity somewhere? Desirable enough that people will pay good rates to ship old tires to the third world? The unintended consequence of viral transmission was pretty nasty.

    • The third world is called the third world for good reason. Their governments suck. Sucks to be their citizens, but that's the way it is.

      Just look at the godawful mess in Africa. You'd think the continent where man grew from would be able to get it right after a few thousand years.
      • Fine, but I'm not asking whether the government of China is willing to employ slave labor -- yes, they are -- or to pollute at levels we haven't been able to imagine for at least forty glorious, enlightened years. (Oh, how grand we are, we who live forty years in the future.)

        I'm asking: what companies in the first world are making the handoff? Where's the point in our system where we say, "We've got this big hazardous waste problem here, but hey, we'll turn it into a little profit -- it's China's problem now."

        I ask this because I'm curious what those companies do -- how they do it, what their other economic interests are -- not because I'm trying to be ideological about it.

  • Shipped there? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by TonyZahn ( 534930 )
    I know there's supposed to be places in the US to deposit your used electronics for recycling (I know this has been mentioned here before...), are these places just shipping their stuff off to China?

    How can you tell the difference between a "reputable" electronics recycler and someone whose contributing to the poisining of people who are all ready in a bad position?

    I know I've gone through my share (or more than my share) of electronics in my day, and I'm afraid that a lot of it has just made it's way to the landfill. With computers becoming obsolete at the rate they do, how can I get rid of this stuff without wasting the reusable metals or poisoning complete strangers?

  • Expected response (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Slashdot has an amazing following. If an article were to run describing live babies being lowered into boiling oil for money, at least 30% of the talkbacks would be dimwitted rationalizations about how it's somehow ok because after all there's a market for it. The next 30% would be facetious comments serving the function of nervous, cathartic laughter. The remaining percentage is our faint hope for improvement.
  • I know how to do this, I have been doing this for so long, I can't believe you guys are still searching for the right way.

    I have it.

    I box it up and put it in my guest room closet. Problem solved.
  • Here []and here []. I don't really expect CmdrTaco to remember every story that's ever gone up, but that took me about 10 seconds of searching in the Older Stuff section.
  • LCDs any better? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by qslack ( 239825 ) < minus threevowels> on Friday August 23, 2002 @01:54PM (#4127857) Homepage Journal
    Are LCDs any easier to dispose cleanly? I am just curious because everything here is talking about CRTs.
  • TechTV. (Score:5, Informative)

    by 13Echo ( 209846 ) on Friday August 23, 2002 @01:55PM (#4127870) Homepage Journal
    Tech TV ran a great program on this some time ago.

    Check it out here. []

    A co-worker of mine has a friend in China, and it is something that he really takes seriously. He actually wrote an article in our IT newsletter a few months ago, talking about the waste that we dump into Asia. All sorts of countries are doing this. Companies are paying to dump this junk off to the cheapest landfill. It is sick. It is something that we need to take seriously. Large ships take this stuff to Asia every day.

    I also read that there are start-up companies that are trying to take this stuff and dismantle it properly. Recycling this stuff, and appropriately preventing serious toxic hazards.

    The first way to start is simple... Don't throw this stuff into the trash. Landfills are becoming full of this stuff. Donate working computer stuff, or try to find a suitable recycling facility. It is important to realize that this can be done with all electronics. [] []
    • I suppose this stuff sorta comes round-trip then huh? I mean, most of the electronics in my house are MADE in Asia as well...

      IMHO, given the documentaries I've seen about the production and labor practises used in high-tech, textile, and plain-old consumer products manufacturing in Asia (specifically China), recycling old computers is the least of their concerns.

      The reason countries like China can build consumer products so cheaply is the lack (or non-existance) of environmental protection and labor standards.

      Sure, I think recycling is good whenever possible, and I recycle in my house. But to say that China's problem is caused by first-world consumers - I have a problem with that.

      I don't have much sympathy for people and governments that do it to themselves in the name of profits...
      • Re:TechTV. (Score:4, Insightful)

        by TGK ( 262438 ) on Friday August 23, 2002 @02:39PM (#4128375) Homepage Journal
        Ok, someone has to play the devil's advocate here so I guess I'll do it.

        Who are we to look down on them? Ok, so China is building its economy by dismanteling computer parts in environmentaly hazerdous ways which are seriously messing with their children's health.

        How do you think the US became the economic hegemon it was in the 1940s? It wasn't by recycling or giving a rats ass about child wellfare. It was by employing 8 year old imigrant children in factories for 12 hours a day, paying them slaves wages (or something close) and generaly making life hell for a bunch of people.

        Of course now we've forgotton all that. Now we've gotten past our past and we want other States to industrialize and become economicly powerfull according to our ideals and environmental standards. The problem is those ideals and standards are a product of our economic superiority.

        You can not expect States like China, India, Vietnam, most of South/Central America etc to pull themselves up by their bootstraps without resorting to the same general horrors that we did. I'm not saying its not possible, just that it's unrealistic.

        Look at the photographs of the United States from the early 1900s and late 1800s. It wasn't a pretty place to live. We were a horrid nasty vile little cesspool and from that we have created a fairly impressive society.

        So China is playing with fire. They will get burned, just like we did. They will kill their children, just like we did. And maybe someday they to can join the ranks of the post-industrial world. Until then we have to let them do what they can. No one told the US that it wasn't ok to commit our attrocities. Why are we any different?

  • by Razzious ( 313108 ) on Friday August 23, 2002 @01:56PM (#4127880)
    I mean come on the country that gives about as many civil rights to its people as Bill Gates distributes Linux.

    These people would have lived CRAP lives regardless of the horrible evil of computer waste products there. It must not be too severe or the Chinese government would be fast to stop it. We all know they could do so if they wanted to. However it provides these people with some form of income and keeps them out of the hair of the rest of the country.

    I have traveled the world and the things being condemned here amount to nothing in comparison to what others suffer through elsewhere. Hell I would gie money to the Christian Childrens Fund before thinking twice about if my toner cartridge was going to be salvaged in China. And while on TONER and its evils...SWEET N LOW is a cancerous agent is BBQ's food.

    • I completely agree. As Americans, our perspectives are so screwed up when it comes to poverty and homelessness, especially with how it relates to charity. It disgust me how their are people in this country that watch those "Please help save a child in Bongo-Bongo" or wherever commercials and feel sad and donate 20 bucks to little Fellipe's shoe fund. These are the same people that actually see a homeless kid the next day and think "little fucker better not touch my Benz, I just had that shit detailed".

  • recycling options (Score:3, Interesting)

    by phatphat ( 603470 ) on Friday August 23, 2002 @01:57PM (#4127892)
    HP offers product end-of-life return programs for HP and other manufacturers' hardware in a number of geographic areas. The terms and availability of these programs vary by geography because of differences in regulatory requirements and local customer demand. Click here [] for info.
  • And??? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Pedrito ( 94783 ) on Friday August 23, 2002 @01:58PM (#4127901)
    These workers are sorting plastic by heating it with a cigarette lighter and sniffing the fumes. They complained of headaches.

    Okay, first of all, is the First World supposed to have a monopoly on common sense?

    I agree, this is all tragic, but this is hardly the fault of the First World. We're not forcing China to take our old computer parts. They have a government that clearly doesn't care about the people. Unfortunately the only way this is ever going to change in China is for them to have a revolution.

    It would be nice if we could do it for them, but the fact is, we can't. Sometimes people must be responsible for their own goverment. We can't realistically overthrow China without serious repercussions. If the people overthrow the government though, I don't think a whole lot of countries are going to be too upset about it.

    So, yeah, I'm sorry this is happening, but eventually, it's going to be one thing too many and the people are going to revolt. There's not a whole lot anyone outside of China can do until then. They have to come to terms with the fact that their government doesn't protect them or even care about them.
  • by TibbonZero ( 571809 ) <> on Friday August 23, 2002 @01:58PM (#4127904) Homepage Journal
    This is going to sound really odd, but I sincerly feel bad some days for the fact that I tread so heavily on the earth (not weight morons, enviormentally).

    I feel bad about the fact that I generate trash with everything I do. I want to go completely paperless, because I don't like the idea of killing the rainforest for paper. I know that some cutting in forests is actually good for the forest, but few loggers do that.
    Even if I didn't use paper, I still get things in the mail, I have packaging, etc...
    My computers, my music equipment, my house, my car (esp my car), generate waste.
    Even the food I eat, I consider waste. I want to be a vegitarian some days, just because of enviormental impact of hog farms, overfishing, etc... I would like to be in touch with the earth more- kinda of like how you think of indians (opps, native americans), of being.
    You may ask, well why don't you. It's because I can't. I am in college. I live in Boston (well in 6 days I do). I can't plant myself a garden. I can't rid myself of paper. I can't use solar/wind/geothermal power in my apartment. I know that there are little things that I can do, and I do those, but it feels small in comparison. Well, at least I won't have my car in Boston, so the T should save some energy somewhere. Does anyone else feel bad about their impact on the enviorment? I am not an activist, just a concerned person. Even if something actually doesn't 'impact' something drastically, I still feel bad for that disruption.
    • Dude,

      Get yourself pulled up by your boot straps. HUMANITY and all we are ARE JUST AS MUCH A PART OF NATURE as that tree!

      WAKE UP!!! This world is about ALL OF IT not some damn tree or piece of paper etc. Use the earth responsibly and die someday to refertilize it!

      • I find it rather funny when people say that "humans are destroying the world".

        Nothing we could possibly do would destroy the world... It could kill us, and all life on the planet off, but nature would eventually recover and move on.

        Are we so important that the universe couldn't get along without us? I rather doubt it.
    • by GuyMannDude ( 574364 ) on Friday August 23, 2002 @02:22PM (#4128170) Journal

      I want to go completely paperless, because I don't like the idea of killing the rainforest for paper.

      God dammit!! Why do people keep saying this?!? Paper comes from trees specifically planted to produce paper! It doesn't come from the trees in the rainforests! The rainforests are being cut down because space is needed for agricultural development in 3rd world countries. Do you really think trees are falling in South America and then being shipped to the USA to make paper??

      Your post (which someone modded as 'Insightful') seems to ask what you can do for the environment. Here's my suggestion: make sure you really understand the issues. Because when you start spouting things like "killing the rainforest for paper" you make ALL of us look like idiots. It's too easy for the pro-big-business, anti-environment forces to point to someone like you and paint all concerned people as morons who want to save the rainforests "because Sting said so".


      • Okay, I'm from Brazil so I will comment. In the rainforests in Brazil loggers DO cut down trees and sell them for every purpose. Yes even to make paper in the developed world. Not only that but over 90% of all the trees cut down go to the developed world. Where do you think all the good wood like mahogony (ie. everything except pine, oak and cherry) comes from? A rainforest that's where. These trees take hundreds of years to grow, they can't be cultivated like pine.

        You do have a point that a significant portion of the damage to the forests is done in order to get new agricultural land, but it's not cut down it's usually burned down illegaly by rogue farmers.
        Don't go getting smug though, because 90% of that agricultural product (usually beef) then gets sold in the developed world as well. Not only that, but because most of the cleared land was burned down to graze cattle, the soil becomes unusable within a few years and they do it again.

        Regardless of how the damage is done, the vast majority of it is financed for by money from the developed world.Yes, what you do here does mean you're responsible for acres of rainforests being depleted. Quit denying it and do something about it.

    • feel bad about humanity.

      if we pollute the planet and use up its natural resources to the point where we can survive .. its not going to have much of an impact on the 'planet's' life span.

      the worse we (as humanity) can do is kill ourselves off .

      the planet will recover/repair itself after we are dead.
    • Then be pro-active. (Score:5, Informative)

      by mekkab ( 133181 ) on Friday August 23, 2002 @02:29PM (#4128261) Homepage Journal
      simply wallowing is not the answer.

      Fine, you feel bad. So what are you gonna do about it? Short term? Long term?
      Short term- you could buy your food from local farmers markets and buy organic in supermarkets.
      (remember: Organic means poop!)

      Don't buy soaps and shampoos from companies that test on animals (you can get a list from my wife does this and you can still buy producst from Target... just not all of 'em.)

      Don't buy products from companies who "pollute" the environment.

      For the mid term- the next car you buy should be a hybrid. Get in touch with people who have gone completely off the grid (hydro, wind, solar, etc.)
      and see how they made the transition.
      Marry someone who can sew and make your own clothes. (or do it yrself!)

      Make a plan, and DO IT. Its gonna cost you more money, its gonna take up more time and effort to do what everyone else does; but no one said character building was easy.

      If you can dream it, you can do it. If you whine about it, you'll get the smack-down you deserve.
      If you do it and whine about it, then yr just like me! ;)
  • Why else would Microsoft just send you a replacement mouse with no hassle, and without you sending them your "broken" one back? It's cheaper for them to take the hit with the mouse (or whatever) than for them to dispose of all the returned mice, since they are considered hazardous.

    (everything in this post is from memory, which means it may not be 100% correct)
  • by Obsequious ( 28966 ) on Friday August 23, 2002 @02:00PM (#4127928) Homepage
    Short version is that you pay IBM $30, and you can stuff a box (of a certain size) with as much hardware as will fit, and ship it back to IBM via UPS. IBM will then refurbish the stuff and donate it to charity, or will recycle it.

    [] er vice.shtml
  • Don't be stupid (Score:4, Insightful)

    by cr@ckwhore ( 165454 ) on Friday August 23, 2002 @02:01PM (#4127932) Homepage
    Anyone know the proper way to dispose of a monitor?

    Now thats the dumbest thing I've heard in a while. How do you think those monitors got to china anyway? People improperly dumping them in the woods, and then the monitors get up and walk to china? C'mon!

    These montors and other computer junk gets sent to china because its collected properly here in the US at our transfer stations and recycling facilities. This stuff is "recycled", just like scrap metals, plastics, and paper. "Recycling" means that its collected, and sold en mass to bigger companies willing to buy it. Then, those companies sell it to bigger companies, and so on. Apparently, the end of the chain is China, and I'm fine with that.

    Its like we're shipping our computer crap over there and forcing it on them. Its bought by companies over there, and shipped. Those companies employ people to process the material. Its not my fault that they don't use respirators! For crying out loud... there's a reason why we're the #1 industrialized nation, and they're a "3rd world" nation, and its not because we've spend hundreds of years feeling guilty for other nations.

    • correction... 3rd paragraph... "Its NOT like we're shipping ..."

    • Re:Don't be stupid (Score:5, Insightful)

      by renard ( 94190 ) on Friday August 23, 2002 @02:28PM (#4128252)
      For crying out loud... there's a reason why we're the #1 industrialized nation, and they're a "3rd world" nation, and its not because we've spend hundreds of years feeling guilty for other nations.

      Hey, good point. While you're at it, why not gloat over the fact that your accident of birth in the United States (I'm guessing) instead of, say, Thailand means that you have the money and the power to purchase the virginity of a 13-year old in Bangkok?

      Seriously though: think about it. Capital is no substitute for morality, and just because the "market will bear" your exploitation of other human beings doesn't mean you have the right.


    • Re:Don't be stupid (Score:5, Insightful)

      by CommieLib ( 468883 ) on Friday August 23, 2002 @02:54PM (#4128515) Homepage
      Well, the reason why the U.S. is the #1 industrialized nation, and China is not, has little to do with the horrible working conditions described here. Perhaps I'm missing your sarcasm.

      The problem here, as it always is, is poverty. The reason why people choose to work in horrible conditions is because they don't have a better alternative available, in their own estimation. Americans have a powerful tendency to project their own values and choices onto others without a realistic appraisal of the situation. For example, when we crack down on "third world" sweatshops (in itself a slightly racist term, IMHO), net effect is that all these children who were working in horrible conditions are fired. Of course we would prefer that the children be going to school, or just about anything more healthy for a child than working. But if nothing more attractive is available, these people migrate to a less desirable, and less visible means of supporting themselves.

      In this country, we've decided that some things are not to be held open as options, no matter how horrible the alternative. I tend to say that what I see in this photo article should be stopped, but I do wonder if I'm not assuming options that would be available here are available there, when that's not necessarily true.
    • Re:Don't be stupid (Score:4, Insightful)

      by st0rmshad0w ( 412661 ) on Friday August 23, 2002 @03:03PM (#4128588)
      So you missed the news about the humongous cloud of pollution emminating from China that will eventually pass over the rest of the planet.


      Earth = Closed system.

      More toxics in China (or wherever) means more toxics on Earth. You know, remember Earth? Its where you keep your stuff.
  • "The workers are sorting plastic by heating it with a cigarette lighter and sniffing the fumes..."

    Ah, yes, the high-tech China of the future. I also hear they test power cables by licking them to see if they feel a current and checking CD-ROM drives to see if they spin by placing them against their groins and seeing if they vibrate too much.

  • So? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by OS24Ever ( 245667 ) <> on Friday August 23, 2002 @02:07PM (#4127988) Homepage Journal
    A) When I last threw away a computer component, I put it next to my trash can, and they took it.

    B) There hasn't been any form of 'you can't throw away your computer' legislation made.

    C) What about the places that have been sending the waste to China. Why aren't they the bad guys? Just because I bought several computers over the year doesn't mean I'm evil. Hell, I've got every computer I've ever owned down to my Atari 800. I've either given one to another person, or sold it on eBay. The only stuff I've thrown away is a monitor or two, and the trash guys took them.

    D) Don't see any evils of old TV articles anywhere. Last I checked a TV Screen and a Monitor screen don't differ a whole lot in basic construction. I'm sure there are a lot more TVs out there in dumps leaching dangerous crap into the ground. Just because the Chinese didn't think them worth recylcing and killing themselves must mean that it's OK to throw a TV away, just not a computer.

  • Ship Wrecking (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Embedded Geek ( 532893 ) on Friday August 23, 2002 @02:08PM (#4128005) Homepage

    Alang is a small stretch of beach along the coast of India where a surprising number of ships are eventually scrapped. Instead of a dry dock, the ships are rammed full speed into the oily beach, then are picked over by workers for scrap. There are 35,000 men ripping apart the things with hammers and sledges. The welders use oxygen and cooking propane, the most skilled of them getting the choice assignment of ventilating fuel tanks to get rid of the fumes (yes, the welders ventilate the explosive fumes). The place is a filthy mess of pollution and there's an estimated fatality a day. By all estimates, it's basically Hell on Earth.

    I read about this in an article in the Atlantic Monthly (Aug 2000). The piece detailed the horrible conditions, the economic motivation (wrecking a ship filled with toxic waste is an expensive proposition here in the West), and the efforts of enviromental groups to put a stop to it. But the real eye opener was the reaction of the Indians.

    Many were pissed that the industrialized world wanted to stop the wrecking and considered such efforts hypocritical. They are not stupid and they know the risks they're facing. They are more than willing to take those risks for steady, reliable income. Many of them point to the pollution and conditions in Dehli that are worse than at Alang. They laugh at what concerns Greenpeace in their tidy offices in London and Holland.

    Do I think it's wrong to ship toxic waste to these countries instead of taking care of it at home? Yes. Should I condemn people who are not really that much different from Americans during the Depression from trying to get by? No. These things are never black and white.


    PS: I have heard that some regulation has come to Alang and other wrecking operations of late, so my Atlantic Monthly article is likely out of date. Apologies in advance. Also, I found two stories online about the issue: in Wired [] and The Baltimore Sun []. I have not read them all the way through, though, and highly recommend the dead tree version of the Monthly piece if you can find it.

    • D'ho! Kudos to SirDude for catching this first []. Also for finding the online version of the Atlantic piece [].
    • Thank you for pointing this out.

      In the minds of the U.S and rest of the world, having children make those shoes you wear is a horrible thing.

      No look at things from the perspective of those children. They have an income to help thier families. They actually have gainful (abeit shitty in my eyes) employement.

      Sure they don't make as much as they would here but then again the scale of the conomy is different there.

      Would you rather have a country of people who are 85% unemployeed or a country of people ,who while doing shit work as it were, ARE employeed and contributing to the local economy.

      Or are you just pissed that the thuggish unions can't get a foot in the door and make money off it themselves?

      Would you rather pay 4 times the price for that CPU you just bought because it couldn't be manufactured overseas?

      The only thing that REALLY concerns me about this article is the fact that it's fucking up the environment the way it is. Then again farmers have been washing cow shit from barns into pupblic streams for years and they can't seem to understand why it's such a big deal.
  • by jjtime4sko ( 321416 ) on Friday August 23, 2002 @02:09PM (#4128010)
    Most reputable computer companies provide recycling services for their and other manufacturers' equipment.

    Try HP Product Recycling Services []

    In the US, it costs $13-34, including shipping. There are cheaper solutions, but you risk having your monitor end up in somebody's backyard in China. HP at least operates 2 recycling plants in Roseville, CA, and Nashville, TN.

  • by selectspec ( 74651 ) on Friday August 23, 2002 @02:10PM (#4128030)
    That kids not taking off the Dell label! He's putting it on! And doesn't that look like Austin...
  • by commonchaos ( 309500 ) on Friday August 23, 2002 @02:12PM (#4128046) Homepage Journal
    I have wondered for a long time why they dont use old computer monitors as TVs. Free (used) monitor, with the minimal cost of a NTSC to VGA converter, and you have a cheap hi resolution monitor...
  • building ramshackle systems out of used and discarded first world computer parts.

    Isn't this the same topic that about a quarter of the "Ask Slashdot" threads are about? :-)

    Interesting to see that lead is now a horribly toxic substance, at least to the BBC reporter. When I was a kid we played with mercury with few precautions, and all fishing line weights were lead.

    The pictures are pure photojournalism hype at its worst. Yeah, let's put some kid in front of that pile of junk and have them make a face!

  • OSDN
    50 Nagog Park
    Acton, MA 01720

    perferably COD.
  • Where is this First World, anyway?

    I always thought the First World referred to
    Europe since the Renaissance, the New World referred
    to the Americas, with the Third World being any
    nonindustrialized ("developing") country.

  • I think I saw a picture of this in National Geographic a few years back. The picture was of some ladies on an apparently scorching hot dockside somewhere in China. Ships would unload giant piles of computer boards and chips and it was their job to sort through this. Imagine piles of 80's-era boards nearly 15' high nearly melting in the tropical sun. When I saw this, I thought to myself that this had to be one of the world's worst jobs.
  • Ok this isn't making me feel sorry. First off, these people are being made to suffer by a government that does not realize that the people far outweigh the amount of army there the army folks may end up joining the real folks when the call for revolution. On the other hand, this kind of reason is why I still have junk laying around the house for one, and for two why I never throw this stuff away until it's TOTALLY useless.
  • Naturally Slashdot has covered this topic before... according to this previous /. article [] China had banned the import of U.S. Electronic trash.

    Also here is a previous article [] on recycling costs added onto PCs.

    Nothing like spending the few extra minutes to search your own website for a topic. On the other hand, this is a more important, concrete, and immediate problem than hypothetical flame wars associated with the DMCA/RIAA/MPAA that are the meat of most /. threads.
  • Odd statistic (Score:3, Interesting)

    by gwernol ( 167574 ) on Friday August 23, 2002 @02:25PM (#4128207)
    Okay, moving story. Poor third world people. Clearly evil Western powers at work.

    But... can we trust the source. The quoted Basel Action Network says that a pile of 500 computers contains 717Kg of lead. That just doesn't sound plausible. Does every computer really have 3.15 pounds of lead in it? Where? Not in the case (all plastic and steel usually). Lead is used in PCB manufacturing, but has anyone heard of a 3lb. PCB?Lead is not a major component of ICs. Perhaps if it was an old portable computer is might have Lead-Acid batteries, but I very much doubt there's more than 3 pounds of the stuff in any portable.

    Perhaps I'm wrong, but I am sceptical of this figure. If their basic stats are wrong, how much can we trust the rest of the reporting? It seems emotive and biased. I'm sure there is a story here and a legitimate concern, but I'd like to see the real facts.
    • Re:Odd statistic (Score:3, Informative)

      by tibbetts ( 7769 )

      The quoted Basel Action Network says that a pile of 500 computers contains 717Kg of lead. That just doesn't sound plausible. Does every computer really have 3.15 pounds of lead in it?

      This is literally not true, but it's close. CRTs do contain lead to block the low-level radiation that they produce. See the Electronic Industries Alliance's information page on lead use in CRTs [], along with a handy PDF []. Examples range from 1.7 lbs in a 14" CRT to 2.3 in a 21" one. Add that to whatever amounts may be present in other system peripherals, and 3 lbs probably isn't too far a stretch. Remember, most people in this world consider a "computer" to be not only that box with the retractable coffee-cup holder, but the entire system (including monitor, keyboard, mouse, etc.).

  • by eggboard ( 315140 ) on Friday August 23, 2002 @02:39PM (#4128385) Homepage
    Seattle's county, King County, handles solid waste disposal, and launched a project two years ago that turned into a pretty serious change in how computers are disposed of at dumps. Yes, people can still try to slip in electronics, but you can no longer drop off monitors, and other CRTs will follow. The county works with local businesses, and has found safe and well-documented U.S. sources to send the products to.

    For instance, monitors are disassembled, and the tubes sent to Pennsylvania, where the glass is smelted, and the lead separate for reuse. (The poster who mentioned that LCDs change this equation are right: no new smelters for recycling are being built because CRTs will no longer exist outside specialized uses, so existing smelters will handle the tens of millions of discards.)

    Likewise, circuits and other components are sent to companies that often offer job retraining and are nonprofits to safely, under OSHA rules, extract useful materials. One outfit in the SF Bay Area can even get usable epoxy out of circuit boards which can be reused.

    The real problem with computing as with white goods (appliances) and other products like cars is that the manufacturers are only required to use safe techniques in building them. Disposal is not part of the price tag. This is changing gradually in Europe, and it's clear to all concerned that if there were a federal mandate, we'd all see savings over the lifecycle of the product: we wouldn't have surprise billion-dollar cleanup funds, and would stop poisoning the rest of the world.

    HP and other companies have taken some great steps with toner cartridges and some other limited products that they build in such a way that they can be easily disassembled and much of the parts reused or refashioned.
  • by gelfling ( 6534 ) on Friday August 23, 2002 @03:38PM (#4128985) Homepage Journal
    Why do so many PCs need to be scrapped if not for the godawful software with the unquenchable lust for hardware. Why is the PC you bought 3.56 nanominutes ago too slow already? WTF is that about?

    Last year I got rid of a 9 year old PC that was a workhorse but eventually ran out of upgrade capability even for my humble needs. Today I have 5 PC's in my house. The newest one is 4 years old the oldest is 8. And frankly if you can't get the job done on one of them then you are doing the wrong job. They are Caldera (or SuSE I keep going back and forth) and Win95OSR2. And that's it.

    PCs get recycled because people get suckered into thinking that 1.6Ghz, a half Gig of RAM and 2 120GB drives and a 48X CDRW to replace that old crappy 32X is gonna make their lives perfect. And you know what? If you did everything the Gods-o-Redmond told you, you really would have to upgrade forever. I mean what's Office 2000 without more compute power than ran NORAD? Nothing, it's crap that's what.

    So if you feel bad for the poor orphans chained to their soldering irons then think of Bill (I have more money than the entire fucking nation of Peru) Gates and the scourge that is his software.

If you suspect a man, don't employ him.