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National PC Recycling Plan Proposed, Again

CowboyNeal posted more than 9 years ago | from the cleaning-up dept.

United States 323

ThinSkin writes "Two U.S. Representatives have proposed a bill to resuscitate a national recycling program for electronic waste, following the successful launch of two state-run programs. The bill would create the National Computer Recycling Act, and if approved by Congress and signed into law, would tack on a $10 administrative fee to the sale price of computers and monitors to fund recycling efforts."

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What's a computer? (5, Insightful)

Odo (109839) | more than 9 years ago | (#11569609)

> The proposed NCRA legislation covers both monitors and computer chasses, as well as a "computer with a central processing unit and monitor integrated in a single device," or a laptop.

Where (and how) do they draw the line? Desktop computer > laptop > palmtop > wristwatch > implant ... maybe it would be better to charge by mass or percentage value (a laptop != a Cray).

I'm not criticising goal of this law, just curious how an arbitrary line is drawn. Arbitrarily is my guess.

Re:What's a computer? (4, Funny)

krisp (59093) | more than 9 years ago | (#11569661)

$10 more for a computer or monitor? Come on guys, thats beer money. Are you really going to let big brother raise your taxes to fund earth-friendly programs? As long as there is oil in our nature preserves, who cares!

Re:What's a computer? (2, Insightful)

randallpowell (842587) | more than 9 years ago | (#11569733)

Oil or no, recycling material is a good idea. It makes things cheaper by not having to mine for it. Why dig for silicon if it's already in PCs put out to the curb? As a resident of Earth, I'd like to see some Earth friendly plans just as you would if a nuclear waste company moved next to your house.

Re:What's a computer? (5, Insightful)

Pete LaGrange (696064) | more than 9 years ago | (#11569777)

Oil or no, recycling material is a good idea. It makes things cheaper by not having to mine for it.

If it's cheaper let somebody collect it and sell it at a profit.
Why involve yet another layer of gov't bureaucracy to screw things?

Re:What's a computer? (0, Flamebait)

DAldredge (2353) | more than 9 years ago | (#11569887)

Judging from your journal perhaps you should think about stop blaming everyone else in the entire world for your problems. I mean you are blaming everyone from the President of the USA to your father for your problems.

Did you ever stop to think that maybe, just maybe, the problem is yourself and you blame everyone else attitude?

Re:What's a computer? (2, Insightful)

Waffle Iron (339739) | more than 9 years ago | (#11569899)

Why dig for silicon if it's already in PCs put out to the curb?

A typical computer probably has many times less silicon than a single beer bottle.

It's not the silicon itself that is resource intensive; it's the purification, crystal growing and doping processes, which are incredibly energy intensive and involve lots of chemicals for cleaning, masking, etc.

Recycling the silicon in chips would probably only cover an infinitesimal portion of the total environmentel impact of chip production, since each chip represents just a tiny spoonful of sand. You would still have to go through all of the other steps to produce a chip; maybe more since the silicon would be pre-contaminated with various obscure doping elements.

Even if you were going to use the silicon for something else, it would be just silly to take the effort to pick tiny slivers out of tightly sealed packages when they're scooping sand out of quarries by the kiloton.

For recycling computers, the metal components would be the top priority, maybe followed by chemically transforming plastic parts into fuel or other useful substances. Those two items cover the majority of the computer's mass. Most everything else is junk.

Re:What's a computer?... According to the bill... (5, Informative)

Fallen Kell (165468) | more than 9 years ago | (#11569741)

(4) the term `computer' means an electronic, magnetic, optical, electrochemical, or other high speed data processing device performing logical, arithmetic, or storage functions, and may include both a central processing unit and a monitor, but such term does not include an automated typewriter or typesetter, a portable hand held calculator, or other similar device;

Also note:
(3) the term `central processing unit' includes a case and all of its contents, such as the primary printed circuit board and its components, additional printed circuit boards, one or more disc drives, a transformer, interior wire, and a power cord;

And:
(e) ADDITIONAL EXEMPTION- The Administrator may exempt from the requirement of a fee under this section any sale made under a contract or an arrangement that the Administrator determines is likely to result in the maximum reuse of significant components of the computer, monitor, or device, and the disposal of the remaining components--

(1) in an environmentally sound and responsible manner;

(2) without violation of any Federal or State law; and

(3) without reliance on funding from State or local governments,

when the computer, monitor, or device is no longer of use to the end-user.

(f) DESIGNATION OF ELECTRONIC DEVICES- The Administrator may designate additional electronic devices to which the fee under subsection (a) shall apply if those electronic devices--

(1) contain a significant amount of material that, when disposed of, would be hazardous waste; and

(2) include one or more liquid crystal displays, cathode ray tubes, or circuit boards.

So, basically right now, only full systems seem to be called "a computer" (i.e. your standard Dell/HP/Gateway, etc., pizza box/tower). But they reserve the right for parts to later be specified, basically anything with a circuit board or LCD.

Re:What's a computer? (3, Informative)

mar1boro (189737) | more than 9 years ago | (#11569755)

It would be easy to avoid such arbitrary levies, and to avoid governmental programs altogether. We just need more community driven projects like Portland's Free Geek [freegeek.org] .

The $10 levy is just like every other well-intentioned-sounding tax. It will end up being a money grab, the funds from which will never be used for the program's stated purpose.

Re:What's a computer? (2, Insightful)

susano_otter (123650) | more than 9 years ago | (#11569898)

The $10 levy is just like every other well-intentioned-sounding tax. It will end up being a money grab, the funds from which will never be used for the program's stated purpose.

Kind of like Social Security contributions?

fie! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11569611)

they're MY paperweights!

Yeah... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11569613)

I guess I'm in support, I don't see $10 as being that bad. It's for a good cause, right? ;-)

Re:Yeah... (2, Interesting)

AvitarX (172628) | more than 9 years ago | (#11569681)

Much better idea.

Require manufacturers of computers to take back any of their stuff to recycle it (also make sure it doesn't end up in China). They can charge as little or as much for this in the purchase cost.

As a further incentive treat the "bad" parts like any other hazmat to make sure people do recycle them.

I am pro big government, but I just don't see them efficiantly using the 10.00 (or even using it for it's intended purpose).

Also a much better cost/use recycling program would be universal curb side federaly funded for all counties with population density greater then X (where X is determined by someoen smarter than me).

Re:Yeah... (2, Interesting)

randallpowell (842587) | more than 9 years ago | (#11569743)

We could have PC makers buy our old stuff so they can polish it and resell it to us as "refurbished".

Re:Yeah... (1)

superpulpsicle (533373) | more than 9 years ago | (#11569691)

No, they shouldn't charge you. This is bullshit. When you buy a coke can, you get a couple cents for recycling. Why should you be punished with a $10 fee when you are the one to care for the environment? If the industry really gives a fuck, they can start building biodegradable motherboards.

We don't need every chipset to change slot types every year. Do something more creative with engineering. I'd like to see my Pentium I board become Pentium 5 without new boards.

This is the biggest government scam. If Coke can replace glass green bottles with cans, so can hardware manufacturers. You can't tell me people who designed coke cans are smarter than people who design computers.

Re:Yeah... (1)

Dionysus (12737) | more than 9 years ago | (#11569720)

When you buy a coke can, you get a couple cents for recycling.

You do realize those couple of cents are built into the price of the coke, right?

Re:Yeah... (4, Interesting)

soft_guy (534437) | more than 9 years ago | (#11569806)

First of all, in many places (such as here in Oregon where I live), we have to pay a deposit to buy soda in cans or bottles. The deposit is in addition to the price of the can/bottle of soda. If you recycle, you often get this as a "refund". Some people game the system by buying cans/bottles in one locale and taking them to another where the deposit is higher (as in the Seinfeld episode where Kramer and Numan try to do this in a mail truck.)

Second, there are pretty good reasons why your Pentium 1 motherboard cannot be a Pentium 5 motherboard that have nothing to do with the electrical engineer who designed it "not being creative enough" or "the government trying to scam you". The fact is that you would not be happy if the P5 were on the P1 mother board because you would not gain much extra speed from having the P5 on there as the bus would be far too slow. The bus speed is only one of many similar problems you would have with such a scheme.

Third, electronics companies are in fact moving to more environmentally friendly manufacturing techniques. At my company, we are currently making a transition between normal type electronics and moving to "lead free" electronics for our circuit boards. One of the electrical engineers on my team was pissed recently when he had to redesign a circuit board to be lead free for this initiative. (He wasn't pissed because of the redesign. He was pissed because he originally started to design it as lead free and was told by his boss to design it "leaded" and then after doing all the work over again to create the regular design, had to re-do it again to make it lead free.)

BTW. Lead free electronics manufacturing requires higher temperatures for the board to be "baked" because it takes more heat to melt lead free solder. Also, I learned recently (I'm a software guy and knew nothing about hardware before I came to this particular company) that newer type circuit boards typically can have circuits at several levels within the board and have parts on both sides of the board. Its pretty interesting.

Re:Yeah... (2, Interesting)

dabigpaybackski (772131) | more than 9 years ago | (#11569811)

This is the biggest government scam.

Well, I agree with you in principle that the program is an imposition, there are a lot of other scams that put this one to shame. Example? [g2mil.com] And that's a drop in the ocean.

The major problem with electronics is the heavy metals that go into their manufacture and disposal, polluting the soil and groundwater for generations. I can foresee a day when people file environmental lawsuits against the electronics manufacturers, in a manner analagous to what they've done, rather unjustly, I add, with the tobacco and handgun industries. Hopefully, the manufacturers see the writing on the wall and clean up their own industry both as a defense against future litigation, and more advantageously, as a marketing gimmick.

Personally, I see the consumer as bearing the full weight of responsibility for the heaps of digital crap getting dumped into landfills. Nobody is making anyone buy that stuff, nor are consumers exactly burying the electronics companies in demands for greener manufacturing. And companies do respond to customer feedback, some more than others, but being profit-oriented entities, they will recognize an emerging market in green electronics, and the smart ones will capitalize. Yuppies will, as always, be the early adopters and pay a premium. Prices will drop, and the masses will follow suit.

Re:Yeah... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11569714)

I guess I'm in support, I don't see $10 as being that bad. It's for a good cause, right? ;-)

It just about doubles the cost of your average PC nowadays ;)

Re:Yeah... (1)

IBeatUpNerds (827376) | more than 9 years ago | (#11569757)

Good cause? Doubtful. What are they trying to do other than charge you an arbitrary amount of money (not to exceed 10 dollars) for properly disposing of your computer. Well, I still posess computers I purchased 20 years ago. Will I get rid of them? Nope. What would happen to the money? It's dropped into these asshole's coffers, to put food on their table and do nothing for you.

Assume you pay 10 dollars for this. 5-10 years from now will inflation have had an impact on the cost of doing this? Probably. So, why is this calculated now, as opposed to when you bring your box down to the dump? For no good reason, of course.

10 dollars times 10 million is a lot of money for nothing.

Re:Yeah... (1)

EvanED (569694) | more than 9 years ago | (#11569804)

I still posess computers I purchased 20 years ago. Will I get rid of them? Nope.

You're unusual. There are people throwing out computers left and right.

Re:Yeah... (1)

IBeatUpNerds (827376) | more than 9 years ago | (#11569825)

Nerds do tend to be unusual. Remeber which site you're on, right? Perhaps you just don't know how to use your computer effectively and are convinced that a new machine every 2 years will compensate for your lack of... something...?

Re:Yeah... (1)

EvanED (569694) | more than 9 years ago | (#11569903)

I'm not saying that I do that; I was using a 486 on a fairly regular basis 4 or so years ago, and we had a 286 and 386 around that weren't being used. (Got rid of all three a couple years ago.)

However, there are a lot of people who do, and a good recycling program would help quite a bit.

Already here (5, Interesting)

pcmanjon (735165) | more than 9 years ago | (#11569614)

My Texas city has a program like this (HEB Hurst Euless Bedford city district) and the stores charge a 30 dollar fee for recycle efforts. I don't see where the extra charge comes in though, as nobody seems to actually -RECYCLE- the computers they buy.

Where's this extra charge come in?

Re:Already here (1)

gcaseye6677 (694805) | more than 9 years ago | (#11569654)

Is the fee charged upfront or when a machine is disposed of? I can see problems either way. If it is charged upfront on new purchases, people will buy over the internet or anywhere else to avoid the fee. If it is charged at the time of disposal, it would be hard to convince many people to pay $30 to drop off something they want to get rid of and see as having no value. I've heard of some cities having free drop off for old computer equipment, which seems to me like the only realistic way to keep it from being dumped in landfills, ditches along highways, etc.

Re:Already here (1)

dmah (90927) | more than 9 years ago | (#11569697)

Alberta just introduced an electronics recycling free (Feb 1, 2005) which is charged by retailers. The charge is between $5 and $45 dollars depending on the product. http://www.albertarecycling.ca/default.cfm [albertarecycling.ca]

Re:Already here (1)

b00m3rang (682108) | more than 9 years ago | (#11569810)

The fee is supopsed to pay for people to pick through the refuse at the dump and pull out computer parts to recycle (like they do with other recyclables).

Here in CA, we just started charging a mandatory $8 recycling fee for all monitors. I think that goes from something like 8" to 30", no distinction between CRTs and LCD/Plasma.

Funny this comes up (4, Interesting)

suso (153703) | more than 9 years ago | (#11569626)

Just today I found a place in Indianapolis called Virtual PC Scavanger or something like that that is doing a hefty job of recycling and reusing old computers. The guy mentioned that they are about to get national sponsorship. Interesting timing.

Some enterprising young man or woman... (4, Interesting)

Dancin_Santa (265275) | more than 9 years ago | (#11569627)

From what I understand of physics, different elements and compounds have different weights per volume. So gold, being heavy, would be heavier than the same volume of hydrogen.

Archimede's principle dictates that an object will displace its weight in water, which leads to the conclusion that the heavier something is, the lower it will sink in relation to other material surrounding it.

Computers are made up of meltable parts. By melting the computers down, would it not be possible to skim off various useful elements and compounds at certain depths? This is how they separate kerosene jet fuel from high octane gasoline. It's all together in a vat, but sucked out from different depths.

Such a system could be set up in someone's back yard (given a large enough back yard). It's well known that some manufacturers use gold to conduct electricity, and silicon is resaleable. So is copper and a host of other really common elements in computers.

I'm surprised no one's done this yet.

Re:Some enterprising young man or woman... (2, Informative)

Pyromage (19360) | more than 9 years ago | (#11569644)

I am not exactly a materials engineer, but I believe that many of the plastic components, PCBs, etc., release extremely toxic fumes when burned. Now, maybe they can be melted safely at below burning temperature, and maybe I'm just totally off-base. But most of my little burning experiments as a misguided youth were geared towards less smelly things than electronics.

Re:Some enterprising young man or woman... (1)

beesquee (674821) | more than 9 years ago | (#11569646)

Gold is already extracted from chips in some places. Actually most modern electronics have more gold per volume then some of the richest ores. The other metals though, silicon and such probaly aren't worth the effort to resale

Re:Some enterprising young man or woman... (2, Informative)

parasonic (699907) | more than 9 years ago | (#11569651)

These aren't simple hydrocarbons though. A lot of the stuff won't even melt. Other things will react nastily. Some stuff can burn, i.e.: fiberglass. What would they do with the electrolytes, the ceramic, the fiberglass, etc.?

Re:Some enterprising young man or woman... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11569658)

I believe that kids in 3rd world nations do exactly this. The problem is, the process generates a lot of highly toxic junk which polutes ground water. Please recycle, and obey environmental regulations.

http://www.epa.gov/ecycling/

Re:Some enterprising young man or woman... (5, Informative)

Odo (109839) | more than 9 years ago | (#11569665)

> Computers are made up of meltable parts. By melting the computers down, would it not be possible to skim off various useful elements and compounds at certain depths?

Four problems I can think of off the top of my head:

  1. Computers are not meltable. Circuit boards don't melt (at least not at any reasonable temperature). So there's going to be a lot of debris.
  2. Melting computers would require a lot of energy. Weigh the environmental costs of burning a ton of coal vs burrying a dozen computers.
  3. The resulting pools of liquid wouldn't be very pure. Not if one is relying on gravity to do the separation. To do a better job you'd need to use a centrifuge. Note that many chemicals of different densities like to bond to each other.
  4. Plastics and other low-temperature volatiles would vapourize before one melted steel. So you'd be venting toxic fumes. That means you'd need a big air-purification system.
Just some thoughts. I'm sure others will think of others. But it's an interesting suggestion.

Re:Some enterprising young man or woman... (1)

ltmon (729486) | more than 9 years ago | (#11569672)

It allready has been done, unfortunately not in a healthy or sustainable manner. Here's a random link [washingtonpost.com] . I was hoping to find some of the more disturbing pictures of the pollution computer waste causes. There are whole villages buried in the stuff in China, and the heavy metals they are extracting is a severe health hazard. I think this kind of thing is why such recycling schemes are being proposed.

Re:Some enterprising young man or woman... (2, Interesting)

DreadfulGrape (398188) | more than 9 years ago | (#11569685)

re: I'm surprised no one's done this yet.

We are. My wife is a safety technician for an industrial recycling plant here in middle Tennessee called Noranda Recycling. They extract precious metals from electronics, and re-process all the HP ink cartidges (you do send those back in the postage-paid envelope, don't you?)

Re:Some enterprising young man or woman... (2, Interesting)

ZombieEngineer (738752) | more than 9 years ago | (#11569701)

Sounds like you want a mineral processing plant with a heavy media separation unit. Grind everything down to 100um (eg: 0.1 mm) and using a range of suitable liquids and slurries separate the material by density.

At this point you should have separated the raw material into metals, ceramics (including the glass from the fibreglass from the PCBs) and plastics. You need to process these individually as appropriately.

With the metals you end up with a metalic sludge, suitable application of various industrial chemicals (oxidise the mess to start with, start with ammonia disolved in water, this will rip out Ag, Co, Cr, Cu, Ni & Zn [gently heat liquor to drop out each metal in turn], next use conc H2SO4 to pull out the base metals into solution and use solvent extraction, finally a dash of NaCN for the precious metals left behind).

The process is well known but far too many steps for a low tonnage process (economical in the 1,000,000+ tonnes/annum for a single plant, that is a lot of computers).

ZombieEngineer

Re:Some enterprising young man or woman... (2, Insightful)

soft_guy (534437) | more than 9 years ago | (#11569739)

Archimede's principle dictates that an object will displace its weight in water

I hate to be nitpicky, but not exactly. If an object cannot displace its own weight in water, then it will sink to the bottom. But for floating objects, your statement is correct.

The rest of your post is well reasoned and yes, there are people doing this (mostly in the second and third world). However, computer parts often contain very toxic substances. Unfortunately, heating these parts to the temperatures needed to melt metal results in the release of gases, some of which are very toxic. So, doing what you are describing can be hazardous to your health. People in Mexico and China and similar places that are recycling PC parts under improper conditions to get precious (or sometimes just valuable) metals are in fact getting ill from doing this.

Re:Some enterprising young man or woman... (1)

suss (158993) | more than 9 years ago | (#11569801)

I'm surprised no one's done this yet.

Might have something to do with environmental laws, don't you think? Causing that much pollution (and it _will_ cause pollution) in a residential area is probably frowned upon.

Re:Some enterprising young man or woman... (1)

MasterC (70492) | more than 9 years ago | (#11569809)

...an object will displace its weight in water...

Not quite there, chief. An object will displace it's volume and because, for example, gold is denser than water then the same volume will weigh more than water. And since the buoyant force by the water is less than the force due to gravity, it sinks.

Anyway, applying this to computers would assume that 1) all the materials are liquid at the same temperature and 2) won't combine into other materials. Neither of which I think are fair assumptions to make, which is probably why you don't see it done...

Re:Some enterprising young man or woman... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11569878)

Methinks it will displace its mass.

Re:Some enterprising young man or woman... (5, Informative)

James_G (71902) | more than 9 years ago | (#11569838)

Computers are made up of meltable parts. By melting the computers down, would it not be possible to skim off various useful elements and compounds at certain depths? This is how they separate kerosene jet fuel from high octane gasoline. It's all together in a vat, but sucked out from different depths.

Close, but no cigar. Oil is seperated into different parts by Fractional distillation [wikipedia.org] , which evaporates the oil and then condenses it at different temperature levels. In the case of metal, you can't just melt it down and skim off at different levels. It would never settle, due to the heat convection. You'd need to evaporate the metal and condense it, which would take a not insignificant amount of energy.. Nice idea though.

Re:Some enterprising young man or woman... (2, Interesting)

the pickle (261584) | more than 9 years ago | (#11569892)

You never read the back of Popular Science in the 80s, did you? It was FULL of ads like this -- "MAKE MILLIONS RECYCLING SCRAP ELECTRONICS!!!!"

It's not even remotely feasible on even a neighbourhood scale. It's like trying to extract gold from a graveyard -- sure, it's there (in the corpses' teeth), but getting it out is going to be a lot more trouble than it's really worth.

You have to grind up the boards with a giant grinder, then you need either

1) a good way to separate out most of the metal, or
2) a really good fume hood and scrubber to get rid of the toxic gases given off by heating the PCBs to iron-smelter temperatures

Once you've recovered the metal, you then need to separate out the good stuff from the crap. Unfortunately, gold makes great alloys with silver, tin, and other components common in computers. Not real easy to separate it.

Economy of scale plays a HUGE factor here. If you can treat it like a large mining operation, you can make it work, but otherwise, forget about it.

p

So... (4, Insightful)

TheUnFounded (731123) | more than 9 years ago | (#11569632)

What constitutes a "computer"? And do parts count?

Re:So... (3, Insightful)

surprise_audit (575743) | more than 9 years ago | (#11569823)

Exactly! At what point does the charge kick in if I buy a bunch of parts from different suppliers around the country, then build my own system??

No, I didn't RTFA... :)

so this means... (4, Insightful)

Doppler00 (534739) | more than 9 years ago | (#11569636)

That the government is going to pocket the $10 per system, while people continue to throw the computers in the trash because it's not worth their time/effort? I know that's not how it's supposed to work, but that's likely what is going to happen here. Leave it to representatives to find more ways to tax us.

BTW, I have two old monitors that I plan on paying to recycle pretty soon instead of irresponsibly throwing them in the dump. But I don't expect the government to tell me I need to pay a fee upfront to do this.

And really how toxic are the components that are in printed circuit boards anyway? Yes they use lead in the solder (for the next yew years), but there really isn't that much used all together. Most of the toxic stuff is the chemicals that go into production of these boards.

Re:so this means... (1)

ravenspear (756059) | more than 9 years ago | (#11569662)

That the government is going to pocket the $10 per system, while people continue to throw the computers in the trash because it's not worth their time/effort?

This is a good point. Just look at how well it has worked so far with regular recycling. There are thousands of places to take your trash if you want to recycle and help reduce waste, but what percentage of people actually take the extra time to do that? I think it's still fairly small.

On the other hand this could be a good idea for corporate environments that junk thousands of machines annually and already recycle their other trash.

Re:so this means... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11569771)

Which is why many communities are implementing Pay-As-You-Throw plans. You pay per bag of trash, per barrel, etc. Lexington, MA had such a plan, and 3 bachelors generated 4-6 bags of trash per week throwing parties on weekends. It cost us anywhere from $10-$15 per week. It was a strong incentive for us to do recycling, paper, cans, bottles. Towards the end of the program we were down to 2 bags a week. $4 per week. Then they overturned the program at a town vote because it was implemented illegally, and we eventually got lazy enough to go back to 4-6 bags per week.

Re:so this means... (1)

porcupine8 (816071) | more than 9 years ago | (#11569815)

Just based on what I've observed, in places where there is curbside recycling a lot of people participate. I've seen this in MA, VA, and NC, and in all three places everyone I knew with curbside recycling did use it. However, you're right, in places without it hardly anyone bothers to lug stuff to the recycling center. Perhaps if they take computers for recycling at the curbside - if they can keep them from just being taken by dumpster-divers.

Re:so this means... (1)

soft_guy (534437) | more than 9 years ago | (#11569829)

There is one difference I can think of. It is not illegal to throw away paper, glass bottles, or aluminum cans. However, it is illegal to throw away CRTs (and presumably other PC parts) in most (all in the US?) places. So, not wanting to bother is one thing. Becoming a criminal (misdemenor? felony?) is another thing. Second, I throw away cans every day, but how often do I throw away computers/monitors? Once every few years? Also, companies dispose of far more PCs than individuals do and typically companies don't like to break the law if they can avoid it . (Yes, there are counter examples, but on something like this where there are big fines and taking it to a recycle center is already paid for?)

Re:so this means... (3, Informative)

strabo (58457) | more than 9 years ago | (#11569862)

It is not illegal to throw away paper, glass bottles, or aluminum cans.

Depends on where you live...

From here [seattle.wa.us] :

City of Seattle Ordinance #121372 prohibits the disposal, effective January 1, 2005, of certain recyclables from residential, commercial and self-haul garbage...

<snip>

...Residents are prohibited from putting significant amounts of paper, cardboard, glass and plastic bottles and jars as well as aluminum and tin cans in their garbage containers as of January 1, 2005. Yard debris has been prohibited from residential garbage since 1989....

Re:so this means... (2, Informative)

ltmon (729486) | more than 9 years ago | (#11569683)

See here [washingtonpost.com] for a brief summary of the toxicity of old electronics parts. There is plenty of toxic heavy metals in the components.

Clever Scheme! (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11569648)

The organizations have the right to recycle and/or resell the used PCs, which must be performed in accordance with in accordance with environmental health laws.

1. Tax 10 bucks on each computer purchase
2. Use that money to resell old PCs
3. ??
4. Profit!

The devil will be in the detail... (-1, Redundant)

ZombieEngineer (738752) | more than 9 years ago | (#11569649)

As someone has already posted, where do you draw the line?
Do PDAs count?
Does a mobile phone count?
Should the charge be by mass?
Should the charge be tiered such that devices with low heavy metal content obtain a lower charge? (default to top tier if the device has not been certified by EPA for a lower price tier)
What will the cost of compliance be?

Who will pay for the compliance cost? (this includes the cost of filling out the forms which could easily exceed $10 per machine)

Just a few ideas for others to ponder on...

ZombieEngineer

Counterproductive (2, Insightful)

Pan T. Hose (707794) | more than 9 years ago | (#11569652)

If computers are made more expensive it only means that everyone with any given bugdet will have to buy a less efficient one, which in turns means longer computations, ergo more power usage. More power means more oil and its associated problems like the greenhouse effect, wars, polution, poverty, etc. Isn't it just counterproductive to use more oil and produce more toxic waste that escapes to the atmosphere forever in order to solve a problem of a "waste" in the form of self-contained expensive hardware which can always find a second-hand market in the developing areas? Computers are not like cars. A CPU that has been working for ten years is unlikely to stop working any time soon and what's more important is that until it breaks it works just as well as when it was new. What exactly is the point of this new legislation if not a new way to add another hidden tax?

Re:Counterproductive (3, Insightful)

fcrick (465682) | more than 9 years ago | (#11569727)

Slower computers use significantly less power per cycle, so actually buying a slower computer would have a net effect of exactly the opposite of what you suggest. That of course, and (slightly) less computers would be purchased if they were all $10 more expensive.

While I agree its a tax, all that is needed is to require businesses to recycle their computers, and that will provide plenty of computers that actually get recycled.

Re:Counterproductive (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11569760)

What exactly is the point of this new legislation if not a new way to add another hidden tax?

Bingo. This "recycling plan" is really just Bush's plan for fixing Social Security. You didn't think private accounts alone would fix it did you?

Re:Counterproductive (4, Insightful)

wass (72082) | more than 9 years ago | (#11569784)

More power means more oil and its associated problems like the greenhouse effect, wars, polution, poverty, etc. Isn't it just counterproductive to use more oil and produce more toxic waste that escapes to the atmosphere forever in order to solve a problem of a "waste" in the form of self-contained expensive hardware which can always find a second-hand market in the developing areas?

Okay, I'll bite. Did you read the article, or are you just knee-jerking?

You've listed one or two problems with recycling, but haven't identified related problems with NOT recycling, nor have you considered of the appropriate scenarios which approach would have the most beneficial impact on the environment and economy. Sure, recycling uses extra power (hence requiring more oil/coal/gas) and will also release fumes into the air (from the power and the recycling process itself).

However, not recycling will require more mining and processing to produce more raw materials for new electronic components. Not recycling will result in computers and electronics taking up landfill space. Not recycling will add pollutants to the local ecosystems (eg lead from all solder points and reflow work, PCB's from many plastics, etc).

Which of these two scenarios is worse I cannot say, but it's not nearly as cut-and-dry as you try to make it.

Regarding reusing computers, you could still donate/sell your computer to needy people or willing consumers, just as you can do now. It's the dumping of your mobo and other cards into the trash that they're trying to reduce.

Plus, you say one can "always" find a second-hand market. What about when they're through with the product, maybe a third-hand market. But eventually nobody will want to use your screaming 10 MHz 386 box anymore. Who will recycle it then?

What exactly is the point of this new legislation if not a new way to add another hidden tax?

Well, from the article : "According to the bill, the fees would be used to fund government grants to agencies or individuals willing to recycle the used computers. A maximum of ten percent of the fees can be used for administrative costs, the bill says. The organizations have the right to recycle and/or resell the used PCs, which must be performed in accordance with [sic] in accordance with environmental health laws."

So there you have it, even you (assuming you're eligible under the program) would be able to apply for a government grant, funded by this tax, to establish reselling the used PC's. So if you're really so interested in ensuring used PC's go to second-hand markets then you should be praising this bill, not complaining about it.

Re:Counterproductive (1)

PolyDwarf (156355) | more than 9 years ago | (#11569820)

I agree that this recycling tax concept is a crock to everyone outside of DC... But come on.

The environmentalist tack with this argument is just plain ... distasteful, without an analysis of the actual power used per cycle of computation, and how many average cycles are being done per time period. To say that computers today can get the same work done faster than those a few years ago is undoubtedly true. However, I see no evidence to support that the computations being done by the majority of the population are significantly helped by today's computers (I don't consider a particular task taking 1 second, versus 2 seconds on yester-year's machines, to be significant). Web/Office/Email tends to not take up much cpu time, which is what a lot of people do with their computers (Whether it be work or home).

Without evidence to support the environmental thesis, along the lines of total cycles vs cost of electricity per cycle "then" and "now" over a particular time period, it's just a bunch of claptrap and hand waving.

Re:Counterproductive (1)

MasterC (70492) | more than 9 years ago | (#11569839)

What exactly is the point of this new legislation if not a new way to add another hidden tax?

It's Bush's replacement for social security. Instead of making us "young folk" pay into social security, they're leeching off our computing addiction. I suppose you could say it's "buy computers or let your grandma starve" kind of deal.

I, for one, will be keeping my grandma alive by buying myself a Beowulf cluster of quad-Xeon with 64 GB of RAM and a RAID 5+1 50 TB multi-headed fibre channel disk array.

What will YOU do to keep grandma from starving?

Re:Counterproductive (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11569901)

I suppose you could say it's "buy computers or let your grandma starve" kind of deal.

I, for one, will be keeping my grandma alive by buying myself a Beowulf cluster of quad-Xeon with 64 GB of RAM and a RAID 5+1 50 TB multi-headed fibre channel disk array.

What will YOU do to keep grandma from starving?


What will I do? Buying her food for the same money would be a good start.

Why the Feds? (4, Insightful)

bleckywelcky (518520) | more than 9 years ago | (#11569653)

This should be a state-by-state decision and a state run program. We do not need the federal government adding one more program to the laundry list of programs that they already don't run efficiently. For interstate purchases just settle on a standard where the state of the seller or the state of the buyer collects the fee. Heck, set it up like a deposit system. You pay $10 when you buy the computer and get $5 back when you turn the computer in.

Smaller goverments run programs better - more efficiency, less impact due to corruption (on a smaller scale corruption is easier to detect), and more people are able to keep watch and keep the program in check. The insight for a program might start on the federal level, but it's insane having 1/2 the programs that we have running at the federal level.

Re:Why the Feds? (1)

BCW2 (168187) | more than 9 years ago | (#11569728)

That the truth. The last thing this country needs is another Federal fiefdom wasting more money than it will ever collect or save. At the state level it is easier to hold people accountable. If the states communicated with each other the ideas that work would take hold faster, and the bad ones get eliminated.

Efficiency would be helped if every Govt. Department was put on a hiring freeze until the staf was 30% smaller than today. Don't fire anyone, just let natural attrition (retirement, career change) thin it out. Half of those that leave will just become lobbyists for other ways to waste money. Just like what happens now.

Re:Why the Feds? (1)

Datasage (214357) | more than 9 years ago | (#11569759)

Yes and No, Although I agree with your premise, for this to work, it needs to have some standardization through all states.

I would go for something fedrally mandated, but locally administered. Some kind of guildlines would need to be established for interstate commerce.

Re:Why the Feds? (3, Interesting)

soft_guy (534437) | more than 9 years ago | (#11569841)

The problem I see with enforcing this state by state is when I buy a computer in one state and then transport it to another and try to dispose of it. Also, mail order houses and PC manufacturers like Dell will have to keep track of 50 sets of regulations. This is not efficient and is in fact a pain in the ass for everyone involved I think. It is much easier with a national law.

And I would not accept at face value that the Federal government is more inept than the state government at running programs. Show some proof on this.

Re:Why the Feds? (1)

pHatidic (163975) | more than 9 years ago | (#11569889)

Because when assholes like you throw your monitor into the landful then the lead gets into the drinking water of people like me.

Why only computers? (3, Insightful)

BondGamer (724662) | more than 9 years ago | (#11569663)

Wouldn't it be more efficiant to come up with a nationwide recycling program for as many products as possible? Or at least extend this to all electronics such as TVs, Radios, etc.

California is already doing it (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11569664)

It's $6 recycling fee to buy a computer starting this year in California. I wonder if the US fee will be added to this, or California will just follow US fee.

Prepaid recycle voucher (4, Interesting)

Datasage (214357) | more than 9 years ago | (#11569666)

The only reason why i dont recycle much computer parts is that no one will take them without charging you for them. Even then, you dont know if it will get recycled or end up in a dump in china.

If i paid the recycling fee up front, and was then able to drop off the only stuff at a recycling center at no cost, i would do it much more often. Though without oversight the stuff could still end up in china.

I guess im still paying the cost reguardless, but I much better about paying when i purchase the item than when I get rid of it.

Where's the old computer collector? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11569679)

Doesn't everyone know some strange fellow that collects old computers and parts? If you did then you could get money for your old computer instead of paying extra for it. That's how recycling used to work, ie: you collected cans, recycled them, and counted your dimes. But now we have to pay to recycle things...what is this country coming to?

Re:Where's the old computer collector? (1)

King_TJ (85913) | more than 9 years ago | (#11569812)

In my experiences, these people are getting tougher and tougher to find, though!

One problem is, as personal computers exist as a "staple item" in our society over the years, the quantity of outdated units keeps increasing.

10 years ago, lots of people who just liked computers would be happy to take one off your hands if it was free. Didn't matter what it was, really.

But nowdays, people are getting pickier. "Sure, I'll take your old PC, as long as it's at least a Pentium III system." That sort of thing....

Several years ago, my employer tried to get one of the area schools to take our old Dell machines as a donation. They told us they not only wouldn't so much as send anyone out to pick them up, but we shouldn't even bother dropping them off over there unless they came with licenses for MS Office, ran at least Windows 2000, and had certain minimum RAM and hard disk requirements!

Recycle this! (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11569694)

Dear trolls, YHBT

I would like to announce that Anti-slash is closing shop, after having been the biggest and most successful troll of all time, especially aimed at trolling the trolls themselves. For months we styled ourselves as freedom fighters, exploding petty grievances against Slashdot (OMG, dupes! REVOLUTION D00DZ!) and generally stirring up all the petty crybabies we could find. All of those who really believed our crap and signed up to Anti-slash, posted our 'manifesto' and campaigned for us ... well done! We have totally fucked pwned your stupid asses. And now thanks to your overblown shit-stirring, you've managed to get an editor fired, congratulations!
Once again ... I HAVE SO FUCKING TROLLED YOU ALL. You fail it times a hundred.
You'll note that our website (http://www.anti-slash.org) has been down for some time now. It won't be coming back, as it's served its purpose of baiting all you pussies. One final 'Well done' to the brave anti-slash crew!

Yours with love, Ackbar

Screw the "fee" - make it a deposit. (2, Insightful)

jfisherwa (323744) | more than 9 years ago | (#11569709)

I wouldn't have a problem with each computer including a $10 "deposit" built into it that you received upon dropping it off at a recycling center, but a fee? Get real.

Screw it all (1)

randallpowell (842587) | more than 9 years ago | (#11569770)

I'd like to see parts being biodegradable but that's be expensive. I'd like to see non-toxic materials in hardware but that would be expensive. I'd like to see companies buy the hardware, remove what they can use, melt it down and use it again but thats expensive as well. Overall, best thing to do is take old PCs, take out the working hardware, reassemble PCs and sell them with Linux to poor people and 3rd world nations so our gov can make a profit and pay the national debt but that is expensive and financially moral. Overall, we're screwed.

deposit!? (4, Insightful)

mottie (807927) | more than 9 years ago | (#11569726)

While you're at it, put deposit on recycleable containers (juice, beer, milk) for god's sake.. it pains me to go to a party in washington (and other states), and see case after case of empty beer cans thrown in the garbage. I understand that unintelligent people can't figure out the difference between deposit and another tax, but thems the breaks. http://www.container-recycling.org/glassfact/decli ne.htm [container-recycling.org]

Re:deposit!? (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 9 years ago | (#11569871)

deposits are just an unofficial way to put the homeless to work.

hmmm (1)

TheAxeMaster (762000) | more than 9 years ago | (#11569737)

I like the idea of paying say an extra 15, and getting 10 back when you recycle it. It's incentive for people to do it, just like with old soda bottles they used to take back and get 5 cents on. And they could test the monitors to see if they work ok and resell them for cheap. BUT, 10 is a lot of money to add to a monitor, close to 10% for a CRT and 5% for an LCD. And the other obvious question is are LCDs less waste than CRTs?

Wait, who throws this stuff away? I stockpile it. But I do agree that it should be prorated on the size/amount of PCB and whatnot in it. Maybe everything that comes out gets a recycling index number imprinted on the back, depending on how much waste it is and that number determines what you have to pay extra/what you get back when you recycle it.

Get... Rid... of... Computers...? (1)

TheUnknownOne (810624) | more than 9 years ago | (#11569745)

Am I the only person out here who tries to get his hands on any piece of computer equipment no matter its age? I would never consider throwing out any of my computer gear. I would not like a fee added on to any computer I buy (if that fee were to be covering recycling) because I will have my computers until they turn themselves in to a pile of slag.

Re:Get... Rid... of... Computers...? (1)

soft_guy (534437) | more than 9 years ago | (#11569847)

Does this depend on what it is? Even a little?

Already in Alberta (1)

Vip (11172) | more than 9 years ago | (#11569750)

This has already taken effect [www.ctv.ca] here in Alberta, Canada. It started Tues, Feb 1, 2005.

Vip

My idea... (1)

Rekkr (771729) | more than 9 years ago | (#11569753)

My idea of computer recycling is salvaging the old parts...

More taxes (5, Insightful)

bullterror (412884) | more than 9 years ago | (#11569763)

Gas tax, property tax, federal income tax, state income tax, social security tax, sales tax, tarrifs on goods we purchase, capital gains tax, federal telephone fees, vehicle registration (buy a nice car and now I can't even afford the plates on it) and the thousand other taxes that I cannot afford to pay.

I don't pay enough taxes. 50% of my income just isn't enough. Add it up folks. The government has $150 hammers to buy. Don't try and pawn the blame off on one political party, either. They're both guilty.

Most people have no clue what they're paying in taxes. The pump thier gas and wonder why it's so expensive but don't even see the 50 cent a gallon tax. They pay their mortgage and don't see the thousands of dollars they're paying in property tax because it's rolled into the payment. Their taxes are deducted right out of thier paycheck. I'm self employed, wait until you have to write out all these checks, it works. Are they going to tax motherboards when I build computers? This will be really good for the struggling IT economy.

Re:More taxes (1)

randallpowell (842587) | more than 9 years ago | (#11569791)

50% of my income just isn't enough.

As an owner of a failed business, I dread tax season. Most money I made is now gone. Why? Greed. Not from our gov mostly but from this fact: The government has $150 hammers to buy. Corporations that sell stuff to the American gov charge far more than the market value of the item. It's like they're pushing for communism of capitial. What we should ask our "representitives" to do is pass a law that demands all merchants price their items on the basis of the current market and not their greedy demands for hand outs.

Re:More taxes (1)

bullterror (412884) | more than 9 years ago | (#11569817)

Naw, I had a government contractor in my family. Here's the truth. If you want to sell the government a $20 hammer, you have to spend about $100 in campaign contributions to the politicians that will never pass that law you suggest. So then you charge $150 for the hammer in order to make a modest 20% profit. People blame crooked contractors a lot of the time but not the political types that show up to shake them down. Same family member just had to pay a $7000 bribe to a court reporter in order not to loose a court case. This court reporter shows up with a bill for services they never performed, and if he didn't pay, he knew he would loose a $350,000 lawsuit.

Re:More taxes (1)

dustinbarbour (721795) | more than 9 years ago | (#11569888)

Ah yes.. The classic extortion scheme! I fuckin' hate people. Seriously.. The world is fuckin' crazy. Where is God and his mass extinction floods when you need Him?

California's Fee (1)

bug506 (584796) | more than 9 years ago | (#11569772)

I just bought a new computer from Dell, and, since I am a California resident, $8 was added to the price for the environmental impact fee. This fee was from just the LCD monitor I bought [dell.com] , which was $700 or so. That's a 1.1% fee.

When I buy a coke for 50 cents, I pay a 4 cent environmental fee, or 8%. The difference is that I can get that 4 cents back if I return the bottle--though in reality, it's just easier for me to drop the bottle in my recycle bin each week.

When customizing a system in which I decided to spend several hundred extra bucks for a slightly better processor and a couple more for more memory, this fee just seemed insignificant. It was lower than tax, and much lower than even shipping. I hate being "nickled and dimed" with government (and pseudo-government) fees (comprising 20% of my mobile phone bill for example), but in this case it just didn't matter to me.

I'm curious, though... since Dell already offers its own recycling program [dell.com] , why do they need to pay the fee? Or does California pay them part of the fee when they recycle the monitor?

Re:California's Fee (1)

toddestan (632714) | more than 9 years ago | (#11569818)

I just bought a new computer from Dell, and, since I am a California resident, $8 was added to the price for the environmental impact fee. This fee was from just the LCD monitor I bought, which was $700 or so. That's a 1.1% fee

What's really strange is that is for a LCD screen too. Compared to a CRT, a LCD has very little toxic material in it - it's basically a hunk of plastic. And that's not counting all the energy saved during the screen's lifetime vs. a CRT.

Re:California's Fee (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11569872)

That 20 percent of your phone bill is not government or even pseudo-government fees. It's just fraud by the telephone company, which has been repeatedly documented.

Imagine for a moment that a airline advertised a ticket for $200, and then charged your credit card $300, adding in an $80 pilot's salary fee and a $20 fuel cost fee. That would simply be false advertising; those costs are part of the normal cost of a ticket.

The phone companies do exactly that. The only detail is that they ask the FCC if they can charge separately for that fee, and the FCC "yes, the cost can be billed separately as negiotiated with customers" and the phone company then advertises a phone for $22/mo., and charges $22 plus $12 in "FCC approved fees."

The money they suggest is taxes never goes to the government.

Re:California's Fee (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11569884)

It really depends on whether or not the fee is proportional, or flat, doesn't it?

I mean, adding a $10 tax to your average $1500 PC isn't a whole lot (0.67% tax)

Adding a $10 tax to a low-end $500 PC is (relatively) 3 times as significant (2% tax)

Adding a $10 tax to a $100 cell phone, PDA or similar is 5 times larger still (10% tax)

Adding a $10 tax to a $50 wireless keyboard or the like is 2 times larger still (20% tax)

If the tax isn't proportional, then it'll just end up causing the price of cheaper devices to baloon. This would have a disproportionate economic impact on the manufacturers of those devices.

Unfortunately, the pessimist in me expects a law like this to be as brain-dead and useless as they come: a flat-tax imposed at each stage of the manufacturing and resale process ($10 to for the manufacturer to sell the board they made. $10 for the vendor who bought it to sell it to the PC assembly shop. $10 for the shop to sell the finished PC to the customer. Etc., etc., etc.)

Hello I am a random Slashdotter (0, Offtopic)

Liberals_Are_Gay (847300) | more than 9 years ago | (#11569779)

and I am here to argue on a message board because I have no life.

Apple's gonna be screwed (2, Funny)

ratnerstar (609443) | more than 9 years ago | (#11569800)

Who wants to buy a $509 Mini?

It grows on trees, I hear... (1)

kiwidefunkt (855968) | more than 9 years ago | (#11569805)

I must admit, the bill seems well put together. Not being able to spend more than 10% of the raised money on administrative costs is a good idea. But one thing. The Davis lady (the one who is against the bill but hasn't read it) thinks that manufacturers should have to pay the cost, not the consumer... Where does she think the manufacturers are going to get this money? They're going to pass it onto the consumers, and probably as more than a $10 per computer increase in price. I'm happy with a $10 flat fee. But, then again, I build my own PCs...And that's another story entirely...

donate to the third world/needy families? (1)

the_y_man84 (786048) | more than 9 years ago | (#11569807)

Why not just donate some those older computers to "third world" countries or to needy families?

Another regressive tax! Tax the rich, instead.... (1, Interesting)

Cryofan (194126) | more than 9 years ago | (#11569831)

why not tax Gates and Buffet et al., on their wealth, and use THAT revenue to recycle PCs?

And let's be honest: they aint gonna use much of any revenue from such a pc recycling tax to actually recycle PCs: they are gonna instead use it for the war machine, or for corporate welfare, or for Congressional pay raises.....

This won't affect me... (3, Insightful)

ShamusYoung (528944) | more than 9 years ago | (#11569833)

I will just build my computers from scratch, and then when I am done with them I can just dump the used machines in some wetlands, or leave it in an empty playground or something.

Joking aside, this sounds simple, but enforcing this would be more trouble than most people anticipate.

* $10 a machine is arbitrary. For PC it is so little money that it won't affect behavior. For smaller stuff (like a cellphone or GameBoy) it is a larger portion of the price, and will encourage people to attempt to dodge the fee. (like buying overseas) This is countrproductive, since it's the PC's are much larger and heavier, and are the obviously the targets of this.

* Not just WHAT is a computer, but WHEN is it a computer? If I buy a barebones system (motherboard and case), is that going to incur the $10? What about when I add a harddrive and memory? CD player? Speakers? What about a monitor? If I build one at home, do I have to fill out a form and tell the gov't I've created one, and mail them $10? What about small-time mom-and-pop computer companies? New paperwork for them too?

* $10 a person isn't much, but it adds up for schools buying in bulk, particularly if every PC, monitor, printer and router incurs a seperate $10 fee. Think of the children!

* If I take two broken computers and RECYCLE some of the parts by building one decent computer, how do I get my $10 back? What if I sell this refurbished system? Do I need to add YET ANOTHER $10 onto the price? What forms will I need to fill out to make sure I don't become a criminal when I do this?

* As with all taxes: collecting it, keeping track of who has paid, tracking down tax evaders, and prosecuting them costs a lot of money. Chump change taxes like this probably cost more than they bring in if you bother to enforce them. What is wrong with all of the hundreds of little nickle-and-dime piranna taxes we already have? Can't you just raise one of them and save us the paperwork?

* "... tack on a $10 administrative fee to the sale price of computers and monitors to fund recycling efforts" Are you kidding me? Fund recycling efforts? This money will go into the big cannibal pot of cash (like all taxes do), and be spent the same way all the rest of the money is spent, so please don't pretend I'm helping to save the world by giving you $10.

* Why are we worrying about computers in landfills? Have you SEEN how big and heavy cars are?

* Dear lawmakers: Not all problems can be solved via the levying of taxes. I know that when you're a hammer, every problem looks like a nail, but don't you have anything better to do?

Give your old parts to a local school instead (1)

Flooded77 (730881) | more than 9 years ago | (#11569844)

Recycling is great if the machine is COMPLETELY unusable but if the machine/part is still in good working order, donate it to a local school instead. Schools (where I live anyways) are usually hurting for technology funding, so every little bit helps- even if it is a cd drive here and a sound card there. It makes more sense to reuse parts that still work.

In some cases, you might even be able to use it as a tax write-off.

take that 10 elsewhere (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11569864)

i think that 10 should go to not-for-profit organizations already taking the initiative to help recycle old hardware (i.e. gnu.org, eff.org, etc...)

and companies such as microsoft and apple should be taxed accordingly for their efforts in keeping the hardware upgrade cycle going. under such a plan, they might figure out a way to code properly by having a modular operating system.

The real issue... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11569867)

I'm not knocking recycling; I favor it. But putting all the emphasis on the end of the cycle hides the cause for massive amounts of waste.

Gratuitous obsolesence. Flashier designs and new (generally unused) features make the software bloated (but no more useful). You need a bigger, faster machine to do exactly the same job, and your employer feels there is no choice but to upgrade because the old versions are unsupported.

Throw-away design. Today's low priced systems aren't built to last; they're built to be as cheap as possible (I do mean cheap, not just inexpensive). The lowest-bidder power supplies are not only short-lived, but sometimes downright dangerous because of improper part substitutions (yes I am an experienced power supply safety engineer; thank you for asking). Their cases are flimsy. Their cooling design is a joke. The pick-up load of old systems I just took to the recycler was typical: the decades-old 80286 machines were still working; the much newer P-IIs were no more than door stops.

Non-repairability. Even if you wanted to fix it, your only choice for repairing a three-year old PC is used or gray-market parts. The manufacturers can olny build spare parts for "current models". When the old inventory sells out there's no way to make more: the components themselves are obsolete. It's time to get off the upgrade treadmill. But how can the customers make their voices heard?

$10 is too much (1)

Ki Master George (768244) | more than 9 years ago | (#11569877)

We shouldn't have to pay $10 extra, especially when we all have to pay for the M$ OS that we may or may not want. Also, how would they price individual parts that could be assembled into a computer? Would each part be $10 more costly? That'd be unfair.

Better Idea... (1)

Halo5 (63934) | more than 9 years ago | (#11569881)

Here's a better idea: get rid of the PC altogether and let's all switch to Mini Macs!

I've never thrown away a computer (1)

Brandybuck (704397) | more than 9 years ago | (#11569900)

I've never thrown away a computer. I've either given them away or sold them. Somebody, somewhere is eventually going to have to throw one away, but I'm not the one.
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