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Earth Day in the Computer Age

This week on Noon Edition, as part of our Earth Day program we discussed the growing issue of electronic waste.

Discussing the growing problem of e-waste

Photo: Arianna Prothero/WFIU

Noon Edition guests Susan Coleman Morse and Laura Knudsen sitting in the WFIU studios following the program.

This week on Noon Edition, as part of our Earth Day program we discussed the growing issue of electronic waste.

Joining us in studio were Indiana Recycling Coalition Executive Director Carey Hamilton, IU Office of Sustainability E-Waste Intern Laura Knudsen and UITS Graduate Assistant for Sustainability Coordinator Susan Coleman.

Tell us what you think of the program by submitting a comment on the right.

  • tedboardman

    I really applaud the Indiana legislature for making manufacturers collect and be responsible for the disposal of their e-waste in our state.

    But I wonder if a few cents per pound for a fine to the company who doesn't comply with collecting e-waste will be enough encouragement to redesign their products. R&D costs a lot.

    As your discussion mentioned, getting a law passed was a challenge and certain compromises have to be made. I would expect that as data is collected that if it shows manufacturers are favoring paying a fine rather than redesigning their products to be more recyclable that the law could potentially be strengthened.

    I'm very familiar with how one manufacturer — Apple — has redesigned their products so that they contain far less toxins, are made of more easily recyclable materials like aluminum and glass, and have less bulky packaging with recycled packing. The redesign and perhaps easier recycled metals instead of cheap plastics may add to the cost of manufacturing. I hope more consumers take environmental impacts of one company vs. another at time of purchase, even if the more environmental product costs a bit more.

    On the issue of standards, I did phone Scott and asked him what standards the Solid Waste Management division adheres to, explaining my concern about export and mishandling of toxic materials. He said that although they are not certified in any of the standards (R2 or e-Stuwards), they have been doing e-waste collection since before the standards were developed and by enlarge those considerations have already been incorporated.

    For example, as far as export, he said they know who all the downstream vendors are that handle the e-waste sent to them and how they handle the materials. He said it's virtually impossible for none of the material to be exported because there are some materials that simply cannot be recycled in the United States. But they certainly don't contract with vendors who export whole products.

    I urged him that if they do decide to get certified in one of the e-waste standards that they choose e-Stewards over R2 because, from what I have read, the R2 standards were developed by manufacturers to their benefit, while the e-Stewards standard is more strict in exporting and handling of e-waste.

    For more information comparing the two standards, see:
    http://e-stewards.org

    and the counter-intuitively titled “BAN e-Stewards Initiative”
    http://www.redemtech.com/ban-e-stewards-initiat

    Great show!

  • tedboardman

    I really applaud the Indiana legislature for eventually making manufacturers collect and be responsible for the disposal of their e-waste in our state.

    But I wonder if a few cents per pound for a fine to the company who doesn't comply with collecting e-waste will be enough encouragement to redesign their products. R&D costs a lot.

    As your discussion mentioned, getting a law passed was a challenge and certain compromises have to be made. I would expect that as data is collected that if it shows manufacturers are favoring paying a fine rather than collecting e-waste and redesigning their products to be more recyclable, then the penalties could potentially be strengthened.

    I'm very familiar with how one manufacturer — Apple — has redesigned their products so that they contain far less toxins, are made of more easily recyclable materials like aluminum and glass, and have less bulky packaging with recycled materials. I suppose the redesign and perhaps use of aluminum and glass instead of cheap plastics may add to the cost of manufacturing. I hope more consumers take environmental impacts of one company vs. another in account at time of purchase, even if the more environmental product costs a bit more.

    On the issue of standards, I did phone Scott and asked him what standards the Solid Waste Management division adheres to, explaining my concern about export and mishandling of toxic materials. He said that although they are not certified in any of the standards (R2 or e-Stuwards), they have been doing e-waste collection since before the standards were developed and mostly those considerations have already been incorporated.

    For example, as far as export, he said they know who all the downstream vendors are that handle the e-waste sent to them and how they handle the materials. He said it's virtually impossible for none of the material to be exported because there are some materials that simply cannot be recycled in the United States. But they certainly don't contract with vendors who export whole products.

    I urged him that if they do decide to get certified in one of the e-waste standards that they choose e-Stewards over R2 because, from what I have read, the R2 standards were developed by manufacturers to their benefit, while the e-Stewards standard is more strict in exporting and handling of e-waste.

    I'm glad I don't have to wait until a once a year opportunity to have my e-waste be processed in the best way.

    For more information comparing the two standards, see:
    http://e-stewards.org

    and the counter-intuitively titled “BAN e-Stewards Initiative”
    http://www.redemtech.com/ban-e-stewards-initiat

    Apple's environment initiatives:
    http://www.apple.com/environment/

    Great show!

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