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Whose Burden is it to Recycle Computers?

Cliff posted more than 9 years ago | from the better-than-the-garbage-dump dept.

Hardware 553

bostons asks: "California places the financial burden of dealing with the electronic waste on consumers, charging a $6 to $10 disposal fee on every computer and television purchased. Maine puts the onus on manufacturers, demanding they pay the full cost of recycling their computers or televisions and pick up a share of the recycling tab for products of unknown origin. Starting next year, Maryland will require manufacturers to offer free computer take-back programs or pay the state a fee. Which do you think is the most effective and appropriate option?"

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Prepaid (3, Interesting)

fembots (753724) | more than 9 years ago | (#12708403)

Sorry I didn't RTFA, but $6 to $10 isn't a lot to include in the total price, so this recycling-tax should be prepaid before it gets out of the shop. I think it'll be more difficult to enforce payment during the disposal.

This extra cost is likely to go unnoticed because a single CPU/RAM/HDD price drop can easily cover that amount.

One common problem with prepaid tax (like petrol) is they took the money, used it on something else, and turned around to say they don't have enough money for roading/accident management.

Hence it's important for the authority to not only impose the tax, but also acknowledge it, so that consumers can simply put the computer/TV out on the street for collection and the authority must fulfill its duty to dispose them appropriately.

Can you help? (1)

heauxmeaux (869966) | more than 9 years ago | (#12708455)

I need to get MORE email! It's for a class project! Can YOU help?

Re:Prepaid (1)

Rei (128717) | more than 9 years ago | (#12708544)

Sounds like what a number of European countries are working towards: including the full lifecycle cost in the purchase price, and ensuring that the money goes to what it was supposed to. It not only helps make sure that hazardous wastes stay out of landfills (as a disposal charge would encourage people to do things like put electronics in the trash can), but encourages producers to make environmentally friendly decisions wherever it is economical to do so, without telling them "You will do things this way, and this way, and... (insert laundry list of regulations here)".

And what if they don't recycle? (1)

sterno (16320) | more than 9 years ago | (#12708562)

What happens if I, as the consumer, just dump my old monitor or CPU into the dumpster? The tax was paid, but the money was never spent and the computer is right where it shouldn't be.

The problem right now is that there's no incentive, other than my conscience, to recycle now. Even if it was free, it still doesn't make people want to get off their butts and do the right thing.

Taxing items when they are sold is worthless because people buy a lot of this stuff on the Internet where tax collection is going to be iffy at best. So the best approach is to just build it into sanitation fees and add into this a bounty for recycling computers.

If I was going to get a few bucks for doing it, it might be worth my while. More to the point, it'll be much more worth the while of scrap collectors if they see my old burned out monitor in the alley.

I mean, realistically, who's going to pay to dispose of an item if it's easier and cheaper to just dispose of it incorrectly? So in essence, you'd be taxing the environmentally responsible.

Re:And what if they don't recycle? (1)

Intron (870560) | more than 9 years ago | (#12708609)

Bottle deposit laws are unpopular enough. Look at the bitching in Hawaii. Image the outcry from the Libertarians on a $10 monitor deposit law. By the way, CRTs have lead, but LCDs are just as bad with mercury, etc.

Re:And what if they don't recycle? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12708641)

Somewhat related...

I've read reports of municipalities having to raise taxes because their recycling programs are costing more.

As a consumer and taxpayer, do I want to pay more AND inconvenience myself? Add to this the sneaking suspicion that the taxes collected for recycling are spent elsewhere, then I don't really give a crap!

Yeah, I know it's the wrong attitude, but isn't that the way I've been programmed to act in a consumer-driven economy?

$6 to $10 is a lot of money (1)

John Seminal (698722) | more than 9 years ago | (#12708621)

There should be a sliding tax scale. Why should the guy who makes $10 an hour pay a whole hours worth of work to have his monitor disposed, when the guy making $80 an hour only has to pay 7 minutes of his time for the same government service??

It is not fair. One guy must work for 60 minutes and the other for 7, to have their trash taken away.

The anwser is to have a luxery tax based on income. Those in the bottom half would pay nothing. Those in the top 50% would pay some fee, and those in the top 25% would pay an additional fee.

We can work this program into the national ID system. It will have all the persons data, their fingerprints, social security number, DNA information, so why not income? When someone goes to buy something, tax can be determined then.

And I don't think we can cheat the system. Most poor people won't screw themeselves helping the rich. And if someone in the lower tax brachet tries to buy a large priced item, it will raise red flags.

Holy crap, time for me to write another letter to Ted Kennedy. I think I finally solved all our problems.

old pit by the highway (1)

GweeDo (127172) | more than 9 years ago | (#12708409)

I personally pay the "old pit by the highway" to take care of my old good chuck and the disposal is all paid up :)

Re:old pit by the highway (3, Funny)

kfg (145172) | more than 9 years ago | (#12708461)

And rather than make two small piles of garbage. . .

Sing it with me the next time it comes around on the guitar.


Re:old pit by the highway (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12708589)

You can get anything you want at Alice's restaurant...

Re:old pit by the highway (1)

Rei (128717) | more than 9 years ago | (#12708595)

Yes sir, Officer Obie, I cannot tell a lie, I added all of my personal files to the hard drive at the bottom of the garbage.

Re:old pit by the highway (2, Informative)

Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) | more than 9 years ago | (#12708494)

Odd logic: you go dump your old stuff on roadside when you could, with approximately the same amount of effort, bring it to some collection point and have people, who are effectively paid by you with the $10 recycling fee you've already shelled out, take it away from you.

If you care about recycling, then you'd see your tax dollar at work and you'd feel good about doing your bit for the planet. If you don't, you can still watch people work for you instead of having to haul junk out of the trunk by yourself. Not to mention, not having to watch right and left to avoid getting caught littering...

Re:old pit by the highway (1)

toddbu (748790) | more than 9 years ago | (#12708558)

So you're the guy who keeps dropping his trash off in the road outside my house out here in the boonies. You wouldn't also happen to be the one dropping off all those stolen cars, would you? And what about that old meth lab we found?

Re:old pit by the highway (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12708575)

I recommend shooting all computer owners... oh wait.

Re:old pit by the highway (2, Informative)

gcatullus (810326) | more than 9 years ago | (#12708588)

You mean you don't actually pile all the old stuff up in your basement? The yawning chasm of clutter is my solution.

Re:old pit by the highway (2, Insightful)

porcupine8 (816071) | more than 9 years ago | (#12708591)

Well, except what you pay in higher taxes to cover the cost of cleaning up the pit.

Re:old pit by the highway (1)

eclectro (227083) | more than 9 years ago | (#12708634) good chuck and the disposal is all paid up :)

Dude, you chuck??? I just leave the tailgate unlatched. Then I do a very hard U-turn and everything is 'recycled'.

durr (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12708411)

franks and beans!!!

fp? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12708413)


What !?! (4, Funny)

lordsid (629982) | more than 9 years ago | (#12708417)

... You mean we can't just keep stacking them up in a corner somewhere?

Different soups, same taste (1)

Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) | more than 9 years ago | (#12708419)

charging a $6 to $10 disposal fee on every computer and television purchased. Maine puts the onus on manufacturers, demanding they pay the full cost of recycling

which they swiftly pass onto consumers. Net result: consumers always pay for recycling (which incidentally sounds rather normal).

Re:Different soups, same taste (1)

painandgreed (692585) | more than 9 years ago | (#12708520)

Actually, i would expect a $6-10 recycle fee at purchase, would put it on the reseller instead of the consumer. one would assume that such costs go to the consumer but usually, resellers have certain price points they stick things at. Nothing is ever $2005, it's usually $1999. The wholeseller may add in the $6-10 to their price raising the price the reseller pays to get the product, but rather than just raise the consumer price the same amount, they'll probably suck up the cost out of their profit to keep that same sell point.

Re:Different soups, same taste (1)

Spetiam (671180) | more than 9 years ago | (#12708622)

they'll probably suck up the cost out of their profit to keep that same sell point.

Or skimp on the hardware quality/features/whatever.

/me shrugs

Re:Different soups, same taste (1)

ArsonSmith (13997) | more than 9 years ago | (#12708524)

No, no Michael Dell is going to pay this right out of his own pocket.

Re:Different soups, same taste (1)

negative3 (836451) | more than 9 years ago | (#12708581)

Even though it would eventually be passed down to the consumers, they probably wouldn't notice if it was in the purchase price. It's probably more likely to get them to use the recycling programs if you don't charge them when they go to recycle the computer. People would rather chuck it in the trash than pay someone to recycle it as they already pay the garbage man anyway.

Fair Enough (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12708602)

which they swiftly pass onto consumers. Net result: consumers always pay for recycling (which incidentally sounds rather normal). This seems fair enough. Why should the taxpayers pay to dispose of my luxury item? If nobody pays the fee, then my old computer becomes a public burden.

Recycle? (1)

Neil Blender (555885) | more than 9 years ago | (#12708422)

You can do that? I thought you had to make routers, firewalls and mp3 servers out of them.

Ha! (3, Funny)

k4_pacific (736911) | more than 9 years ago | (#12708428)

...$6 to $10 disposal fee...

Ha! Joke's on them! Most of my computers were fished from dumpsters.

Re:Ha! (3, Funny)

Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) | more than 9 years ago | (#12708514)

...$6 to $10 disposal fee... Ha! Joke's on them! Most of my computers were fished from dumpsters.

Erhm, joke's on you actually: you take care of the recycling for them and they cash the $10 recycling fee.

Wrong people.. (2, Funny)

t_allardyce (48447) | more than 9 years ago | (#12708432)

I don't think anyone on slashdot has ever thrown a computer away..

Re:Wrong people.. (1)

Temkin (112574) | more than 9 years ago | (#12708501)

Almost true. I gave my PDP-11/03 to my little brother last year!

Re:Wrong people.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12708518)

I did. When I got powerbook, I trashed the ol' 20lb IBM thinkpad. Serves as platform for my LCD screen.

Re:Wrong people.. (2, Funny)

John Seminal (698722) | more than 9 years ago | (#12708548)

I don't think anyone on slashdot has ever thrown a computer away..

I am reading this on my 386 in a text only browser. You got something against that?

I know a guy who collects 486's. He has about 20 working machines in his basement, many with a monitor hooked up. Each computer station is manned by a G.I. Joe action figure or Transformer. My buddy goes in front of the class and teaches for 4 hours a day. It is a grueling schedule for him.

Many of his students have gone on to work for prestegious companies like Kramerica.

Re:Wrong people.. (1)

modecx (130548) | more than 9 years ago | (#12708585)

I just threw away a Viewsonic P220F 22" monitor away. It was kinda' depressing, because it did have a good picture, but one day last week it decided to give up a goodly amount of magic smoke... Just outside warranty, of course.

I took it apart to see what the deal was, and there was a pretty large part of the PCB burned out, right under the connector that supplies the guns their juice, and it de-soldered quite a few joints around it... Probably fixable, but probably not worth it either. That and it stank. Bad. And I'm lucky I was there to catch it, or my house probably would've looked like the inside of my monitor shortly thereafter.

That's about the only time I'll throw a computer part away. Most of the others seem to find their way into friends and family's computers.

Re:Wrong people.. (1)

eclectro (227083) | more than 9 years ago | (#12708594)

I don't think anyone on slashdot has ever thrown a computer away..

Ne'er a truer word has been spoken on slashdot.

Hmm (1)

pHatidic (163975) | more than 9 years ago | (#12708433)

Every consumer electronics item should be sold with a deposit that is a percentage of its value. That way, consumers have to recycle the product at the end of its lifetime to get their money back, just like with aluminum cans.

Currently there are armies of homeless people who roam around the cities and countryside picking up cans to claim the deposits. However the problem is they only pick up the empty cans and leave the other trash on the ground until it washes into the lakes, rivers, and oceans after the next rain storm or gets eaten by animals or little kids. Imagine if every recyclable had a bounty of a few cents. Then armies of homeless people would scour the countryside cleaning it until it sparkled instead of sitting around and telling hobo stories while giving eachother sponge baths.

Re:Hmm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12708530)

I agree, I live in the urban core of a large city. The area I'm in is upscale and homeless/drug free but the majority of the downtown area is rife with the homeless. Every empty drink container with a refund is picked up. If we could extend this to paper products, electronics, et al we could help the homeless and spin off some recycling depot businesses in the blight areas of the urban core.

Re:Hmm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12708616)

Ideally the deposit would be representative of the damage it would do if dumped irresponsibly rather than its value, but that would be very hard to administer.

Also with regard to recycling, better reuse than recycling. Hence I'd rather see a return to deposits on drinks bottles rather than recycling cans. And ideally drinks bottles would be refilled locally to cut down on transport, and be in a smallish number of standard sizes to allow reuse of a coke bottle as a lemonade bottle next time round, and so on. The homeless could still collect drink containers (some would still be discarded) and still make money on them.

In a similar way still functional consumer electronics could be recycled directly rather than recycling the components. Pawn shops and eBay go a long way towards doing this already.

Re:Hmm (1)

ThosLives (686517) | more than 9 years ago | (#12708625)

That's actually a phenomenal idea...

Oddly enough, it's effectively giving [the homeless] jobs through the use of taxes, without having too much bureaucracy in the middle. That is, instead of taxes going to the government to pay clean-up crews, the recycling fee goes to the store which holds it then gives it back out when the trash comes in.

I wonder how difficult it would be to add this to more products than just a limited selection of beverage containers? Of course, you'd still have to fix the law so that the [can deposit] is based on the container material and not the contents. I'm still amused that pop bottles are charged a deposit but water and juice bottles are not.

Does it matter? (1)

vorm (878140) | more than 9 years ago | (#12708434)

I don't think it really matters who pays the bill as the consumer will end up paying for it one way or another. Even if you charge the manufacturers or retailers, they will in turn pass this cost on to end customer.

Re:Does it matter? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12708546)

If you have ever took an economics course you would realize that not 100% of a tax/fee is passed on to the consumer. Of course this model is an academic prediction and we all know that economics professors tend not to be grounded in reality with their assumptions, so you may very well be correct. However those who pretend to subscribe to free market dogma must acknowledge what I said above or they are willfully lying.

Re:Does it matter? -- YES (1)

donutz (195717) | more than 9 years ago | (#12708578)

Presumably, the goal is to keep toxic materials out of landfills (so those materials won't leach into groundwater). Charging the manufacturer or retailer won't stop the consumer from tossing old electronic equipment. For that matter, neither will charging the consumer.

Unless...what if it was more of a deposit system? Have the consumer pay an extra $20 up front when they buy a computer, but give them an incentive (maybe $15?) to return the computer so its components can be disposed of or recycled properly.

Re:Does it matter? (1)

v1 (525388) | more than 9 years ago | (#12708579)

True... though if you make the consumer pay for it when he buys it, (as a tax or other addition to the purchase price) then that's manditory, and guarantees the recycling costs of all hardware is paid for, because it's paid for in advance. By the time it's ready to be recycled, the consumer has forgotten they already paid for recycling, and hapily brings it into the center to drop off, at no additional charge to them.

Now on the other hand, if we charge for recycling when you bring it into the center, then we get people like an earlier poster that just dumps it in a ditch (to avoid paying the recycling fee?) then we have the system breaking down.

The basic rule goes something like this: if you want to squeeze a few extra nickels out of someone, put out your hand when they've already got their wallet out, not when it's back in their pocket. It's basic human nature to be more accepting of paying a little extra when shelling out some money than to make a separate extra payment they can concieve of a way to avoid.

People are lazy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12708438)

If you make the consumers pay for it you're much more likely to end up with computers dumped in random places, so as to not pay the fee for recycling it. Why is it that when you recycle anything else they pay you?

(In Soviet Russia, computer recycles you.)


Proof Safari owns Firefox (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12708442)

Owned []

Handy-dandy color key:
Red - Firefox can't render fonts.
Blue - Widgets are too 1995.
Green - No Cocoa spell-check. (And the spellcheck extension sucks)
Purple - Close tab button too far out of the way.
Yellow - Oversized toolbar/status bar
Aqua - Adblock just plain fails every once in a while. PithHelmet wins.

Oh, and Safari boots up faster, loads pages quicker, and takes up a hell of a lot less memory than FIrefox.

Bottle Deposits? (1)

MalaclypseTheYounger (726934) | more than 9 years ago | (#12708443)

I think they should make the consumers pay a $1-$10 refundable deposit on all recyclable computer equipment. Make the dollar figure adjust depending on the type of hardware, maybe $1 for a keyboard, but $10 for a CRT. Have return/refund stations at any place that sells the stuff, and give out refunds, just like we do with bottles and cans in some states.

That way, when I load up my truck with my old junky used equipment and dump it on the side of the road somewhere, bums can load it into shopping carts and make some money. I don't have to clean up my mess, and can dump my PC-related trash anywhere, bums make some extra cash, and the streets remain clean and uncluttered of unsightly PC litter!

Everybody wins!

Re:Bottle Deposits? (1)

MalaclypseTheYounger (726934) | more than 9 years ago | (#12708487)

Oh, great, I'm gonna get modded down for redundancy, even though the guy who posted this same idea above me posted at the same exact time.

So much for my lame attempt at karma whoring.

Thinking more about this idea, however, I realized that this really won't work, unless each piece of PC equipment is stamped much like bottles/cans are, otherwise, the warehouses full of old rotting PC equipment that thousands of companies don't know what to do with will suddenly be showing up asking for a handout (refund of deposit) on merchandise that wasn't charged the deposit in the first place.

Re:Bottle Deposits? (1)

CrayHill (703411) | more than 9 years ago | (#12708521)

I agree with the bottle deposit concept. The goal is NOT to throw things out, but to encourage the consumer to bring them back for recycling.

effective? (0, Flamebait)

fanblade (863089) | more than 9 years ago | (#12708446)

Which do you think is the most effective and appropriate option?

Throwing them out. Seriously. Nobody should recycle them unless the consumer feels like they should. And if they feel that way, they can pay. That's right, I said it.

community/state programs (1)

binarstu (720435) | more than 9 years ago | (#12708448)

I think the most effective option would probably be what a lot of communities and/or cities are already doing with conventional recycling. These towns have set up city-wide recycling programs that are "free" (that is, tax-funded) to residents and mandatory. These programs are effective because they're easily available and don't cost anything beyond what the consumer has to pay in taxes anyway. Such a system for tech junk would help avoid the finger-pointing of asking "who's fault is it" and instead provide a community-wide means for recycling.

Re:community/state programs (1)

erlenic (95003) | more than 9 years ago | (#12708537)

Exactly, because we don't already spend enough taxes and restrict enough personal freedoms.

profit! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12708449)

1. take-back program
2. re-sell to 3rd world countries
5. Profit!

wrong (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12708631)

replace #2 with... resell on ebay with no DOA protection

No bother (1)

0xABADC0DA (867955) | more than 9 years ago | (#12708450)

I don't care who pays for it as long as I don't have to do anything. As long as I can call for special pickup and dump it on the curb like anything else then it could cost me $50 more for my state tax for all I care.

But if I have to do anything different from what I would with normal odd-sized trash then I'd just throw it in the dump when they aren't looking and then everybody loses.

Re:No bother (1)

hurfy (735314) | more than 9 years ago | (#12708590)

I'm with this for the most part.

A fee on disposal won't work, they will just be dumped on the side of the road.

So it will be on sale or manufacturer and added in, same diference. Maybe include in local garbage/recycling fees is an option.

But it needs to be easy/obvious.

I actually dont know what i am supposed to do with this old monitor. I dont imagine tossing it in the garbage is the best solution although it would fit and the truck is automated so it would go ... However it goes to an incinerator, is burning CRTs the best idea?

I dont think they do much if any sorting there. I am not going back to see after watching em toss in a truck full of old vinyl molding. Does a nice hot fire REALLY make burning vinyl (or CRTs) safe?

At work of course it just gets tossed in dumpster.
Sorry guys its locked ;(

Curious now, i'll see if i can find what we are supposed to do with em.

Why taxes? (1)

NereusRen (811533) | more than 9 years ago | (#12708636)

As long as I can call for special pickup and dump it on the curb like anything else then it could cost me $50 more for my state tax for all I care.

Why does everyone immediately try to use taxes? If they are already making some sort of individual contact with you (by coming to pick up the thing), you may as well pay them directly per-item. Even if it's state-mandated that you must get your old tech properly disposed of, user fees are perfectly suited to this type of problem. That way people would take the true cost of tech into account when deciding what to buy.

We techies should be responsible enough to shoulder the costs ourselves, instead of forcing everyone in the state to pay for disposal of technology that they might not use.

Burden !! (1)

ElDuderino44137 (660751) | more than 9 years ago | (#12708452)

It's always the burden of the individual ... doesn't matter if we know about it or not. You can't have a whole without the parts !!

What's different? (1)

DrinkingIllini (842502) | more than 9 years ago | (#12708453)

Consumers should pay for recycling / disposal, why should computers or tv's be different from any other piece of trash? Once you purchase the equipment, you are responsible for it.

Whose Burden is it to keep the computers in a land (1)

EnronHaliburton2004 (815366) | more than 9 years ago | (#12708459)

Whose Burden is it to keep the computers in a landfill?

If the computers are not recycled, they will most likely end up on the side of the road or in a landfill. Considering that there are materials in the computers which are toxic, this means that the toxins will eventually leak out into the surrounding environment.

So before we ditch recycling, the following questions should be asked: Whose Burden is it to keep the computers in a landfill? Whose Burden is it clean up the toxins? Who's burden is it to pay for the detrimental health and environmental effects from when the toxins leak into the surrounding environment?

Recycling computers is also not a clean process, and also produces toxic byproducts. So really, we need to ask the same questions for recyling also.

Zero tax (1)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 9 years ago | (#12708467)

On recycling companies.

Dell does it right... (1)

rackhamh (217889) | more than 9 years ago | (#12708478)

If you buy a computer from Dell, they send you a DHL shipping label for recycling your old computer. It's free for the customer and you can just use the box that your new machine came in. It would be great if more companies could offer this kind of service.

Consumers pay for everything in the end (1)

nanojath (265940) | more than 9 years ago | (#12708482)

So it's sort of a moot point. The money may travel a circuitous route, but if you force manufacturers to cover the cost of recycling, it will filter into consumer cost one way or another.

Doesn't everyone just sell their old computers for ten or twenty bucks on eBay? People actually throw these things away?

Re:Consumers pay for everything in the end (1)

timeOday (582209) | more than 9 years ago | (#12708577)

So it's sort of a moot point. The money may travel a circuitous route, but if you force manufacturers to cover the cost of recycling, it will filter into consumer cost one way or another.
If that's truly the case, then the manufacturers would have no objection to taking on the responsibility for recycling. Yet somehow I doubt they would submit to this without a fight.

Huh? (1)

pv2b (231846) | more than 9 years ago | (#12708491)

If you tax manufacturers to pay the recycling bill, the cost increases will just be passed on to the consumers, either directly or indirectly.

Adding a surcharge on buying electronics is perfectly reasonable. After all, it's not like those "EVIL MANUFACTURERS" are alone responsible for creating this awful toxic waste that has to be recycled. If nobody were to buy the items, the manufacturer wouldn't manufacture them. The manufacturer only manufactures to satisfy a need in the market.

Whichever way...we pay (2, Insightful)

freedom_india (780002) | more than 9 years ago | (#12708492)

It does not matter whichever way. We (consumers) ultimately pay the state AND the manufactuer to carry it away.

Knowing state governors, they will probably charge us at POS, then go ahead and bill manufacturers, who will in turn put the tab on our bills.

Oh i can forsee it something like this:

  1. Cost of iBook 14" 512 MB RAM: $1456.00.
  2. State cess towards hazard disposal: $10.00
  3. Manufacturer charges for waste disposal: $10.00
  4. County charges: $6.00
We will end up paying $26.00 for a $10 charge because the stupid state billed US and the manufacturer for the same.

Manufacturers obviously will NOT abosord the charge. they will load it onto the cost.

Giant Trash Ball (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12708495)

I think we should just make a giant trash ball, and shoot it off into space. It probably won't come back for thousands of years, at which point it will no longer be *our* problem.

Re:Giant Trash Ball (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12708593)

I think you watch too much Futurama.

Waste and the consumer (1)

boner (27505) | more than 9 years ago | (#12708497)

You buy a newspaper and you pay for the destruction and waste collection, why should it be any different for consumer goods?

Primarily the burden on the manufacturer should be to use components that are easy to recycle. If more than 30% of the product is not recycable, give the manufacturer a penalty. The burden on the consumer should be that he pays for the removal and destruction up-front, that way there is no incentive to leave it at the side of the road or dispose of it in other non-ecological ways.

The most effective method? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12708500)

1. For new computers:
- require a state registration fee at purchase time.
- require a renewal ever 3 years or have the user return the computer. Make it either/or with no exception. Cough up the computer or pay for life.

That would turn it into a "drivers license" to compute.

2. For existing computers:
- Use the military to conduct a house to house search and slap registration stickers on every computer they found.

Um, did you also want a *practical* method?

Ultimately it's always the consumer's burden (1)

G4from128k (686170) | more than 9 years ago | (#12708506)

It does not matter who pays for it, it is the consumer's burden. Consider the four alterantives for disposal:
  1. If the buyer/consumer is legally required "properly dispose" of a the computer, then the consumer pays directly.
  2. If the seller (computer maker/dealer) is required to do it, then the consumer will still pay for it in the form of a higher price on the computer
  3. If the government offers "free" disposal then the taxpayer (= the consumer) pays for it. (Admittedly it may be non-computer-using taxpayers that shoulder some of the burden)
  4. If we let old computers be dumped and create toxic waste then some future consumer will bear the burden for either disease or cleanup. (Again, it may be non-computer-using taxpayers that shoulder some of the burden)
Business and government never "pay" for anything, they only provide convenient (and sometimes efficient) mechanisms for collecting costs from consumers/taxpayers to achieve some collective goal.

The consumer always pays for it in the end (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12708507)

Consumers always pay for recycling in the end.

But in cases like this the person most able to handle the problem should be the one required to do something about it. Manufacturers generate the waste, design the components, have distribution networks in place. It only makes sense that they should be in charge of recycling.

I only hope they embrace this as a potentially profitable enterprise and not treat it as heavy metal miners have done in the USA. They are required to cleanup mining operations after they are finished but most spend / embezzel the cleanup money and declare bankruptcy. Then a multi million dollar disaster is left with nobody accountable.

I don't think Company X would declare bankruptcy to get out of recycling electronics, but I think they might use other means to circumvent the requirement. Corporations seem to be good at that.

Solution... (0, Flamebait)

John Seminal (698722) | more than 9 years ago | (#12708508)

California places the financial burden of dealing with the electronic waste on consumers, charging a $6 to $10 disposal fee on every computer and television purchased

Can't we just send all our shit to some third world country? Hell, it is where we stole most of the natural resources anyways. Maybe if they burry it in the ground, in another 50,000 years they will have coal we can go back for.

Seriously. Why can't we use some third world nation as our garbage dump? I know I will get flamed for this. But those people don't have nothing anyways. Land in the USA is expensive, it costs too much to throw stuff away.

Look at Cuba for example. There is a country that is dirt poor and has sanctions against it. Yet the Cuban people are experts at keeping old cars running.

Maybe if we have an agreement with some African nation to take our computer garbage, they can make 1 working system for every 10 we throw out. They could set up their own buisness oppertunities, maybe open up a call center. Why should India get all the contracts?

Then a few years later, they can string together 100,000 computers to form a super computer.

I know this will get modded as troll, but we don't want it and they don't have it. It seems like a solution. All we need to do is figure a way to get it over there. Anyone know where Tina Yothers is?

fi8st posT (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12708511)

6 to 10 dollars is cheap (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12708516)

The private disposal firms charge an arm and a leg, $25 for monitor and $15 for sealed lead-acid UPS batteries which is more than they cost new.

I don't mean to call you naive.. (2, Insightful)

gadders (73754) | more than 9 years ago | (#12708526)

..but it will always be the consumer that pays. You don't think manufacturers will just let any government levy come out of their profit margins, do you?

The consumer (1)

CaptainCarrot (84625) | more than 9 years ago | (#12708528)

How does a computer enter the waste stream? The consumer buys it, uses it, and then decides for his own reasons that he doesn't want it any more and discards it. I see no reason to put the onus on the manufacturer or vendor here. Once you buy it, it's yours and it becomes your problem. I don't notice anyone ponying up to pay for keeping my old washing machine and dryer out of the landfill -- I had to haul them to the scrap metal recycling bins myself. This is no different.

Besides, it's not hard (at least in California) to find places that will recycle your computer for free. It doesn't necessarily cost you anything at all.

Not moot (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12708532)

Fee should be on manufacturer...they will pass this on to consumers, but they will then have an incentive to reduce nonrecyclable components and thereby keep some of the fee for themselves

Place the burden at the time of disposal (1)

Thunderstruck (210399) | more than 9 years ago | (#12708534)

It is unfair to charge a person a disposal fee at the time of purchase, because it is entirely possible that the person will handle disposal himself at some later point. Rather, a disposal fee at the landfill gate will target those buyers who chose to dispose of a computer in that way. Recycling companies may do likewise (and perhaps compete with landfills.) Lastly, the consumer may simply choose to keep the old hardware in his basement, or bury it on his own land.

(Why yes, I do have a stack of old tires at home, I find them useful for gardening, storage, and impromptu playground equipment.)

Machine gun? (1)

It's the tripnaut! (687402) | more than 9 years ago | (#12708540)

...MP5 semi-automatic machine guns...

Aren't mp5's SUBmachine guns?

Here's the wiki: []

A submachine gun is a firearm which combines the automatic fire of a machine gun with the ammunition of a pistol, and is usually between the two in weight and size.

If the journalist could not give reliable information about a part of his article from an interview with a secret service agent (and details readily available on the net), who's to say he's actually giving reliable information about a clandestine operation against a shadowy group operating in the digital underground?

Re:Machine gun? (1)

Raampage (853558) | more than 9 years ago | (#12708566)


Disposal Tax (1)

techwrench (586424) | more than 9 years ago | (#12708542)

First it was CRT's, and now I got notice for LCD and plasma screens... soon it will be boards and Chips. Does anyone want to pay an extra $10 for a NIC??

Equivalent (3, Interesting)

readams (35355) | more than 9 years ago | (#12708551)

According to basic economic theory, no matter who the tax is levied on, the end result will be the same, depending on the elasticity of demand. If demand is highly elastic, then the manufacturer ends up bearing the burdern of the tax, and if demand is flat, then the consumer ends up bearing the burden, with a whole spectrum in between.

where to recycle (1)

dmf415 (218827) | more than 9 years ago | (#12708552)

I work on a university campus in the housing area. I leave my old computers by the elevator, on the sidewalk, or give them to the relatives. I also sell them on websites for a free or low cost. ($10.)

Whose Burden? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12708555)

As a Democrat, I think it falls, like everything else, on the Government. That way, as a Democrat, I don't have to think for myself, and let others do it for me.

what difference does it make? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12708557)

it's all going to wind up in a fucking landfill anyway

Freecycle (1)

G4from128k (686170) | more than 9 years ago | (#12708563)

It may not solve the disposal problem, but services such as FreeCycle [] helps old, but usable, items find new homes. The longer people can use an item, the fewer items per year that need to be disposed.

blargies (1)

ickleberry (864871) | more than 9 years ago | (#12708576)

i say put a strippt-down linux on it and ship it to some third world country

Consumer will always pay. (1)

MuckSavage (658302) | more than 9 years ago | (#12708592)

Irregardless of who gets the initial fee, it will eventually trickle down to the consumer.

Manufacturer. (1)

elbarono (187180) | more than 9 years ago | (#12708605)

It doesn't really matter who they charge. If they charge the manufacturer, the manufacturer will just pass along the cost to the consumer anyway. Then, they avoid having every store in the state collecting and remitting extra fees. Charging the manufacturer directly is the more efficient option.

Who's recycling computers? (1)

greenguy (162630) | more than 9 years ago | (#12708607)

Why, these folks! []

Free market burden on disposal (4, Insightful)

standards (461431) | more than 9 years ago | (#12708608)

The ideal situation would be to place the burden on the market in such that there is an incentive to reduce costs.

Therefore, if manufacturers have the burden, they will have to charge customers indirectly by increasing purchase price (after all, customers pay for everything in the end).

And if manufacturers carry the direct burden, they will also have the desire to lower disposal costs. Instead of a flat $6 for disposal costs, the manufacturer will want to lower it as close to zero as possible.

This becomes a win-win. It costs the consumer in the end (as it always does), but manufacturers have a strong incentive to minimize the disposal costs.

At the end of the day, I'll speculate that this could be a profit center for the manufacturer - the resale of whole components and quality recycled raw materials could wind up making them money.

Disposal Tax (1)

podperson (592944) | more than 9 years ago | (#12708611)

I'm in favor of placing a disposal tax on anything which needs disposal. The tax collected could be paid to folks who cleanly dispose of things (including recycling them). This would improve the economics of recycling, help reduce landfill, and provide a financial disincentive against excessive packaging.

And while we're at it, gasoline tax should pay for, say, 75% of the Defense budget.

burn them (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12708620)

burn them and dump them in the river

Easy Answer (2, Insightful)

ndansmith (582590) | more than 9 years ago | (#12708626)

Biodegradable Comptuers.

gold from computers... (1)

whotheheckknows (889030) | more than 9 years ago | (#12708627)

I saw something about a company in the San Jose area that is getting the gold out of computers and its apparently cheaper than if they were mining it.

Apologies that I don't more details on this.

So, I'd say they can take it free of charge, if they can make money off the reclaimed elements.

Refurbish Centers (1)

ZP-Blight (827688) | more than 9 years ago | (#12708638)

Why not put the funds toward a refurbish center that will evaluate which hardware is still functional and give it away to people who may use it to better their life (a 300mhz machine can still connect to the internet and do simple tasks such as eMail, Web and IM).

Any left-over junk should be gotten rid of in an orderly fashion as best fit current disposal technology.

I live in Maine (1)

dj245 (732906) | more than 9 years ago | (#12708640)

We recently bought a laptop from Dell. I didn't want a dell, but mum wanted one, and nothing in the world could convince her otherwise. The hard drive died on Monday.

But anyway, there were no fees for computer disposal on the bill. We didn't get any literature about "end of life of your laptop" or anything like that. And the price of it included no hidden fees that I couldn't explain away. If they are putting the burden on manufacturers, they aren't living up to it.

Summary, two options... (1)

theskipper (461997) | more than 9 years ago | (#12708647)

1) The consumer pays when disposing. Pretty unfair because a bunch of computers can simply be thrown in the trash by those not wanting to recycle. Well, life's not fair but it's the starting point in the article.

2) The manufacturer plus consumer. If the burden shifts to the manufacturer then the recycling cost will inevitably be added to the initial price tag. So every purchaser pays up front whether the fee is buried in the purchase price or listed as a separate disposal fee. A little better. Home builders like myself would seem to be excluded. Not to mention that some type of fund would need to be set up for such a thing.

However, the real key to getting something like this to work is by marketing. Play up the fact that your computer is "green" and appeal to soccer moms to buy brand X for Christmas morning. Maybe throw in a little lower power consumption and stripped down packaging to boot. It could certainly be made to work to the manufacturer's advantage financially. That's the "3) Profit!" aspect.

Btw, Honda advertises that the Pilot is 90% actually was a factor in my decision to by it.

It's not about cost (2, Insightful)

erroneus (253617) | more than 9 years ago | (#12708648)

The action should reflect the purpose as directly as possible.

That said, I am reminded of the fact that, in Texas at least, places like JiffyLube and any place that changes oil are required to accept old motor oil for proper disposal at no charge. This is a burden on these oil changing places but the purpose is to benefit the evironment, not to "tax" people. This approach is definitely not a tax and has the least amount of bureaucratic overhead. (The benefit to the oil-changing people is that because the outsiders still need to dispose of their used oil properly or face heavy fines if they are caught which means it is less convenient to change their own oil and since they need to make the trip to the lube shop anyway, they just might get more business in the process.)

With that as my own mental image of what an appropriate solution might be, a mandatory "take-back" program is the only way I think is appropriate. Then the sellers can do whatever they [legally] need to do in order to dispose of them properly. This would accomplish the main purpose, which is to decrease the amount of this waste in landfills. Taxing is not appropriate in this case.

Yeah for dumpsters (1)

fenfiralcain (761504) | more than 9 years ago | (#12708649)

just use the stupid dumpster
what's it matter if the land fills get poisoned, it's not like they're sanitary as it is...

int main(){ char ln[0]; ln[15]=(ln[14]=(ln[13]=(ln[12]=(ln[11]=(ln[10]=((l n[0]=((ln[1]=((ln[2]=((ln[3]=(((ln[4]=(((ln[5]=((l n[6]=ln[9]=(ln[8]=(ln[7]=83)^125)-14)+89))&244)+2) )&229)+)-5))&253))|96)+249)-22))^49)^27)^26)^27)^1 ; printf(ln); }

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