2 minute read

Computers aren't green. The article covers the market in computer scrap smuggling into China, for labor-intensive, environmentally-unfriendly scrapping and partial recycling.

Not to mention corporations sending their effectively remaindered PCs to LDCs as an act of charity -- because the manpower and skill to bring junky old, mismatched and undocumented 486s and Pentium Is to working functional order is just everywhere, twiddling their collective thumbs waiting for a shipment.

In the insanely rapid adoption of computers into modern life, and the high rate of turnover of old computers, combined with the push to get LDCs online, some thought needs to be put into the environmental externalities, both for the industrialized and the developing worlds, beyond cell phones that pop apart at high temperatures.

We need to find ways to internalize the costs of rapid hardware obsoletion -- through forcing companies to offer some form of buyback/recycling program (which may not work well for computers sold overseas in different jurisdictions/enforcement mechanisms). It's not like there's been lots of success with global environmental regulation thus far, but with this possibly leading to a definite negative impact for China, and US corporations being swayable through the name-and-shame methods, there you have two of the major computer manufacturing players dealt with already. If there's some tie to add in Taiwan, Japan and S. Korea through the APEC forum or a new FTA agreement with environmental policies tied in...