Greenpeace, that quasi-infamous bastion of eco-consciousness, is after Apple Corporation for lagging behind the rest of the computer industry in recycling efforts. Their take?
We love Apple. Apple knows more about "clean" design than anybody, right? So why do Macs, iPods, iBooks and the rest of their product range contain hazardous substances that other companies have agreed to abandon? A cutting edge company shouldn't be cutting lives short by exposing children in China and India to dangerous chemicals. That's why we Apple fans need to demand a new, cool product: a greener Apple.
Way to go! Finally, Greenpeace is finding a way to generate news that doesn't involve a harpoon. Dell and HP have stepped up to recycle old machines. IBM is getting subtle pressure from some shareholders, via a group called Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition, to join the effort. Together, according to Computer Take-Back Campaign, the three companies have recycled over 116,600 tons of obsolete electronics since 2002. Apple, however, only managed to gather 1,500 tons.
As a hardware geek and a computer hobbyist, I have gathered my share of old parts that I loathe to chuck in the trash. (Anyone want a working Compaq 400 MHz box running Win95?) Monitors are especially troublesome to get rid of for me. Case in point: I just finished building my latest home-grown Frankenstein box and, in goofing about with the old troublesome machine managed to fry (D'oh!) both the power supply and the mainboard. What's a circuit nerd to do?
I'm sure there are a few others who cringe at the idea of landfilling their old components. Perhaps necessity finds them squeezing their eyes shut while hefting them in an unwatched dumpster behind the strip mall. Maybe by tossing the pieces away a small bit at a time will ease the conscious. There's a better way. Many states are waking up to the problem of mounds of toxic chemicals leeching from buried circuit boards to offer programs where the components can be recycled adequately.
Besides the option of trashing your machine, there are several organizations that would refurbish and redistribute a used computer for charities. People like myself may forget that many people, even in the US, are still without a computer.
Here's a partial list of resources in no particular order:
While big-time eco-orgs like Greenpeace can work the large picture, we small fries can and should do what we can to ensure a safer world for the future. And the next time you ponder new hardware, ask yourself if you want a iMac case made out of PVC sitting on your desk. Not all apples are green, it seems.