Archive for January, 2010

Is the Apple iPad Green Enough?

Friday, January 29th, 2010

The way technology is evolving, today’s latest electronics are doing their best to become “green” products. Apple’s new iPad is a revolutionary piece of technology that is far more advanced than any other tablet PCs. With a starting price of only $499, this item is definitely going to be a must have for a lot of consumers. Still there is an underlying question that not too many people have asked. What effects will the new iPad have on the environment? Apple has stated that the iPad does have environmental features, but that doesn’t mean you are going to see Captain Planet walking around with one.

Truth be told the Apple iPad is about as green as a piece of technology like this can get. In Apple’s favor the iPad is an e-reader, allowing someone to store and read all of their once paper documents on the device. This will definitely reduce the amount of trees being cut down for the use of printing. The iPad also doesn’t contain any harmful chemicals: no arsenic, no mercury, no BFRs (brominated flame retardants), no PVC. When someone is ready to move on the entire device is highly recyclable. Apple also decided to go with a LCD-backlit display instead of OLED, which requires more energy. In addition the iPad has a 10 hour battery life, which means that it won’t need to be constantly plugged in for a recharge. With all these green features in mind, Apple’s iPad may seem like a state of the art environmental savior.

It is safe to say that the iPad is a green product compared to most of today’s electronics. However, lets look past all those nice green features for a moment. The production of any electronics like this has a huge environmental impact. Add that to the fact the iPad will be in high demand more and more rare metals are going to be used. Global supply chains are needed to ship the materials to the productions site and then again when they are ready to hit the market. The biggest problem is that the iPad is just an addition not a replacement. The iPad is designed to be a supplement to other devices. It doesn’t aim to replace full sized desktop or laptops and not too many people are going to replace their iPod with the 9 inch iPad. Even if in some instances the iPad does replace everyday electronics, where are those going to go? More than likely they end up in a landfill contributing to the e-waste problem. Plus who is to say that everyone is going to recycle their iPad once it reaches its end life. Sure it is highly recyclable, but with no stable e-waste recycling laws in place, iPads could become a direct source of e-waste.

Although it is green, the iPad represents another device to be owned. It begins with the metals used in production, to the energy consumed by manufacturing and shipping, to the burden of its disposal, is the iPad really doing planet earth a favor? It is easy to overlook all the hidden problems when Apple does add green specifications to the iPad. However, when looked at fully from the production to the end-life the iPad may just end up being a problematic device for the environment.

Recycling Electronics: The E-Waste Laws

Monday, January 18th, 2010

As thousands and thousand of electronics continue to be disposed in landfills, the e-waste dilemma is starting to garnish attention. Not just anyone’s attention neither, but that of state legislators. As of now, nineteen states have implemented some sort of electronics waste program. New York could become the twentieth state if they are able to defeat the Computer Electronic Association (CEA) and the Information Technology Industry Council (ITI).

Oral hearings are scheduled to begin next week between the CEA/ITI and New York City in a court hearing concerning the city’ proposed recycling program. If the program passes, manufacturers will be forced to have more of a role in the recycling of their products. On the other side of things if the program is denied there is a fear that this could hurt existing programs and stall chances for future ones.

While keeping e-waste out of landfills is the main reason such programs are being put in place. There is still another issue that the proposed recycling program could solve. Forcing manufacturers to be responsible for their products at the end of their life cycle shifts the cost of recycling to the state and municipalities to the users and manufacturers of those products. This would cancel out the recycling fees for everyone and hold just the consumers and manufacturers responsible.

The bill was originally passed in 2008. It was suppose to begin collection from manufacturers in 2009 and with fines for residents beginning this year. In the bill there is a rule that deems the manufacturers are responsible for direct pick up of anything over 15 pounds. Manufacturers believe that this rule in the law is unconstitutional because it requires situational burdens and non-existing expenses. Many supporters of the bill believe that the CEA and ITI are interpreting the bill in the most burdensome view in order to help get their way.

Being the first law passed in the city that deals with e-waste, manufacturers are not ready for change. They don’t see the possibilities in increasing recycling efforts, job creation, and saving in expenses. All of this will be figured out in the coming months as the State defends it plan against the CEA and ITI. If the law is passed, New York City residents will be required to start recycling electronics starting July 1st.

The e-waste dilemma isn’t just going to go away. More and more programs are taking an initiative to help solve this ongoing issue. Recycling for Charities is just one example of programs that are set up to reduce e-waste pollution. Not only does Recycling for Charities keep e-waste out of landfills, but it gives back funding directly to charities. That is just on a non-profit level. If states continue to pursue e-waste legislation more and more programs and opportunities will develop to continue to help the cause.

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