Showing posts with label internet users. Show all posts
Showing posts with label internet users. Show all posts

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Despite Rules, Electronic Waste Remains a Hazard

Recycling an old PC might not be enough to keep it out of a landfill. Despite a swath of regulations, discarded televisions and computers are finding their way into scrap heaps all over the world, with potentially harmful environmental consequences, reports National Geographic’s Chris Carroll.

Some 50 million tons of unwanted and obsolete electronics are discarded every year, according to the United Nations’ Environment Program. The U.S. contributed between 1.5 and 1.9 million tons in 2005, and the total is expected to climb as people replace their analog TVs with digital versions and upgrade PCs to faster models.

Even though a growing number of state laws prohibit putting electronic waste in the trash, more than two-thirds of U.S. TVs and computers eventually end up in landfills, where they could leak lead, mercury, arsenic and other toxins into the ground. The old machines also contain potentially reusable quantities of gold, silver and other metals that could be extracted with less of an environmental impact than from mining new sources in the ground.

While some old products end up in recycling centers, that is no guarantee that the gear will be processed safely, says Mr. Carroll. Some recyclers around the world sell old electronics to brokers, who then funnel it to developing countries. In parts of Asia and Africa, enforcement of environmental regulations are weak, and people are often eager to mine discarded goods for valuable bits of metal scrap. In Accra, Ghana, Mr. Carroll uncovered old electronics bundled into shipments of used clothes from Germany, even though the European Union has put in place safeguards blocking the shipment of hazardous waste to poor countries.

The outlook for used electronics isn’t entirely bleak, however, says Mr. Carroll, who visited a state-of-the-art recycling center in Florida that can process around 150 million pounds of electronics a year. While just a handful of U.S. recycling companies can handle large volumes of electronic waste, with the addition of just a few more plants, it would be possible to safely recycle the country’s entire output of high-tech trash. – Wendy Pollack

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Sunday, June 1, 2008

8 Ways to Green Your Home

8 Ways to Green Your Home


1. Clean Out Your Storage
We all have a closet or garage full of items that aren’t used anymore. An easy way to organize these areas is to group the products and decide what to do with them accordingly. Some sample groups could include electronics, household waste (paint, pesticides, motor oil) and scrap metal.

2. Recycle Smarter
Once you’ve grouped out what you want to get rid of, figure out how and where to recycle these products or donate them for reuse. Earth 911’s recycling locator at the top of this page can help. Another way to recycle smart is by closing the loop; buy items made from recycled content and with limited packaging.


3. Use Energy More Wisely
Compact fluorescent lightbulbs (CFLs) use 20 percent of the energy of incandescent bulb, and they also last 10 times as long. Keeping your thermostat at reasonable temperatures in both the winter and the summer is also a good energy saver. Finally, read your energy bill and check for trends from month to month, and ask your energy company about renewable alternatives.

4. Use Less Water
Whether it’s taking shorter showers or putting a bottle in your toilet tank, saving water is important because it is a limited resource. You can also reuse water around the house, such as using cooking water for plants (the nutrients from the food will benefit the plant).

5. Start Composting
Composting is hip again, and it’s a great way to reduce your waste and help your garden at the same time. You can include most food scraps and material like cardboard, which will biodegrade in your yard and produce nutrient-rich fertilizer. A cubic yard of compost is worth $80 in dirt costs.

6. Invest in Energy-Efficient Appliances
If you can afford it, start replacing older appliances in your home with more energy-efficient ones. These products will reduce your energy output and save money on your electricity bill. Buying a hybrid car is also an eco-friendly investment.

Start a Green Group
Plenty of green activities are meant to be a shared experience, such as carpooling. Talk to your friends about the importance of conserving, and develop programs and activities in your neighborhood for others to get involved. Students can also start a Club Earth 911 at their school.

Plant a Tree
It may seem clich├ę, but planting trees was the original carbon offset. Not only do they reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in the air, but they can provide shade for your home (reducing energy costs) and produce fruits that you won’t have to buy at the store.

Share your own green tips with others by commenting below. Print the list to post on your refrigerator!

This story is part of Earth 911’s “Green Eight” series, where we showcase eight ways to green your life in various areas. Click here to see Earth 911’s “Green Eight” archive.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Digital TV Update

Digital TV switch update
The coming switch from analog to digital signals for over-the-air television transmission continues to make headlines.
The Federal Communications Commission (Washington) levied fines this week against retailers and television suppliers for violating rules that require televisions currently being sold to work easily after next year's transmission switch. Best Buy (Richfield, Minnesota), Sears Holding Corp. (Hoffman Estates, Illinois), Target Corp. (Minnesota), Wal-Mart (Bentonville, Arkansas) and seven other companies received fines for the violations. Fines ranged from $296,000, charged to Target, to the approximately $1.1 million levied against Sears.
The Consumer Electronics Association (Arlington, Virginia) has launched a campaign called Convert Your Mom, starring the Brady Bunch's Florence Henderson, which asks consumers to help their parents to weather the transmission switch.
The Consumers Union is asking the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (both of Washington) and Congress to extend the 90-day deadline for the government-issued $40 coupons for digital converter boxes. The boxes have been slow to market, making it difficult for some consumers use their coupons before they expire.
The Washington Post was the latest major paper to publish an overview of the coming switch, with some impressive photos of towers of collected televisions

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

The Recycling Advocate - April 16, 2008 - Volume 13, Number 3


Bottle Bill Expansion Advances

CAW sponsored legislation that aims to update the state's Bottle and Can Recycling Law by expanding the program to include all plastic bottles among other measures, passed out of the Senate Environmental Quality Committee 5-2. SB 1625 (Corbett) now heads to the Appropriations Committee.

Toughest Plastic Bag Reduction Measure in Nation Moves Out of Committee

CAW sponsored AB 2058 (Levine) passed out of Assembly Natural Resources committee April 14 with a 5-3 vote. The bill will require retailers to meet a tough plastic bag diversion mandate--as high as 70%--if they wish to continue freely distributing plastic bags. If the benchmark is not met, retailers will only be able to hand out bags if they charge a fee of not less than 15 cents. A similar approach has reduced plastic bag consumption in Ireland by over 90%.

Other CAW Bills Pass Out of Committees

CAW sponsored AB 2505 (Brownley) passed out of Assembly Environmental Safety and Toxic Materials Committee April 15. The bill proposes to phase out the use of PVC resin in certain consumer packaging. Consumer packaging represents the largest segment of PVC in the solid waste stream, as it is virtually non-recyclable. PVC consumer packaging also presents a human health threat as it can contain high levels of phthalates and heavy metals, and is a costly and potent contaminant in the recycling stream of other, non-toxic alternative plastics.

AB 2640 (Huffman) passed out of the Assembly Natural Resources Committee April 14 with a 5-3 vote. The bill will assist in reaching the CIWMB's goal to divert 50% of organics from landfills by 2020 by creating a program to support and handle this organic waste. AB 2640 will next be heard in the Appropriations Committee.

Vote in our Poll! Question: Plastic bags cost $250/household in retail costs and taxes. What fee level will motivate consumers to bring their own bag?

Monday, March 31, 2008

CASH CONTINUED TO FLOW INTO the solid waste industry in 2006. That's one of the conclusions to take away from the 14th annual Waste Age 100.

The top five companies remained the same when compared with the 2005 listing, and all of those firms posted revenue increases from the previous year. Furthermore, the list is heavily populated with companies that did the same. And in this era of rising fuel prices, spiking insurance costs and more expensive containers, that's news that the industry will gladly take.
Industry executives are optimistic about how their firms will perform in 2007. “We produced excellent financial results throughout 2006 and laid a foundation on which we will build during 2007,” said David Steiner, CEO of Houston-based Waste Management, in a press release announcing the company's end-of-year results.

James O'Connor, chairman and CEO of Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based Republic Services, is similarly bullish about his firm. “In 2006, we experienced another record-setting year,” he said in a press release detailing Republic's 2006 financials. “Annual revenue increased 7.2 percent for the full year as the company exceeded $3 billion in revenue for the first time in its history.”
Moving past the publicly traded companies, the revenue increases continued throughout the list.
Westboro, Mass.-based E.L. Harvey & Sons, which is ranked No. 42 on this year's list, reported $45 million in revenue for last year, a whopping increase of 25 percent from the $36 million the firm brought in in 2005.

Also, coming in at No. 95 on this year's ranking, Gap, Pa.-based TIER Holdings received $8.3 million in revenue in 2006, up from $7.9 in 2005.

Whatever challenges waste firms may have, continued revenue growth indicates they're getting the job done.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Opportunity

E-waste is growing by more than bits and bytes as outdated stereos, TV sets and VCRs make way for newer technology. As these products pile up in garages, attics and basements, electronic waste (e-waste) recycling efforts have become a priority for businesses and municipalities.

To take action on burgeoning e-waste, Houston-based Waste Management Inc., began to offer e-waste recycling several years ago under its Phoenix, Ariz.-based Recycling America subsidiary. Simultaneously, the company has focused on large commercial accounts, such as original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and other commercial businesses, to expand its electronics recycling.

Services now are provided to public, private and nonprofit customers in 20 states through a network of more than 50 collection depots and four regional processing centers. Recycle America's electronics recycling program, branded eCycling in March 2002, is expected to recycle more than 40 million pounds of e-waste by the end of the year.

Recycling America's collection services include curbside collection, typically through bulky goods and drop-off programs for electronics. The company also has hosted than more 40 special collection events this year in California, Colorado, Maryland, Minnesota and several other states.
Processing costs range from $0.15 per pound to $0.35 per pound, depending on the commodity, customer needs (e.g., product identification, proprietary destruction, ability to resell) and material quantities. Rebates also are offered for precious metals, working and resalable equipment and components, and other select e-waste streams.

Recycle America faces challenges with electronics recycling. Even with the economies of scale and strong commodity marketing capabilities, the company has difficulty with certain markets that change frequently or are underdeveloped.

“The U.S. electronics recycling industry must overcome immature markets for materials such as cathode ray tubes (CRTs) and plastics,” the company says.

Despite the challenges, Recycle America encourages other businesses and municipalities to develop their own e-waste recycling programs. Doing so will help reduce a city's or company's disposal costs, better manage resources and minimize future liabilities from storing potentially hazardous products, according to the company.

The eCycling program, which began in 1996, has grown three-fold this year compared to 2001 and nearly eight-fold since 2000, particularly with municipal and government contracts, according to the company. Recycle America expects high growth from municipalities and limited commercial growth until an economic recovery is in full swing.

To prepare for growth, Recycle America is adding to its number of existing e-depots and e-waste consolidation facilities. Also, the company has focused on developing partnerships with other recyclers to deliver service through an integrated network of local and regional facilities.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

China's internet users

By ANICK JESDANUN,

NEW YORK - The Chinese government said Friday its Internet population has soared to 210 million people, putting it on track to surpass the U.S. online community this year to become the world's largest.

The official China Internet Network Information Center, also known as CNNIC, said the online population grew 53 percent, from 137 million reported at the same time last year. According to the government's Xinhua News Agency, China is only 5 million behind the United States online, a figure consistent with some American estimates.

China still lags the United States in many respects, however.

Xinhua placed China's online penetration rate at 16 percent — the point Americans were at in the mid-1990s. According to the Pew Internet and American Life Project, 75 percent of American adults are now online; penetration is even higher when teens are included. (China's stats cover Chinese 6 and older.)

"We're two countries at very different points along the adoption curve," said John Horrigan, Pew's associate director. "China is approximately 15 years behind."
Several other differences between the two markets mean Internet penetration has different meaning in China and the United States.

First, cybercafes serve as the main entry to the Internet for many Chinese unable to afford a computer at home. One-third of Chinese Internet users surf through cybercafes, according to Xinhua, while Pew found that 93 percent of U.S. Internet users have access at home.
Also, China is notorious for censorship. Although the government promotes Internet use for education and business, it tries to block the public from seeing material it deems pornographic or critical of communist rule, including new rules promulgated this month covering online videos.
And China's government imprisons people who mail, post online, or access politically sensitive content from within China. Reporters Without Borders says 50 Chinese "cyberdissidents" are currently in prison.

Nonetheless, China's online growth is significant.
"Users do a lot to shape the Internet and not only by directly posting content but (by) their behavior," Horrigan said. "It tells other people what the demand is. As you get more Chinese, that increases demand for Internet content in Mandarin and other Chinese languages."
Horrigan also said many Chinese users are accessing the Internet through mobile devices, offering China "a distinct opportunity to shape the Internet" with usage everywhere.

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