Everyone knows NIMBY. “Not in my backyard” succinctly describes our reaction to anyone’s proposal to locate anything we find objectionable in close proximity to where we live, work or play.
In the case of obsolete computers, TV sets, cell phones and myriad other electronic products discarded for recycling and reclamation, the challenge of how to safely dispose of them has become a major NIMBY issue. In a podcast last year, IBM pointed out that the fastest-growing part of the waste stream is electronic products. In 2007 alone, more than 63 million computers in the United States were traded in or thrown out, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.
IBM has long focused on recycling its own information technology products. Its take-back programs began in Europe in 1989, and IBM now offers asset-recovery programs in 57 countries. Between 2002 and 2005, the company’s asset disposition operations took in and reused more than 1.9 million ma-chines.
Panasonic, Sharp and Toshiba recently founded an organization-the Electronic Manufacturers Recycling Management Co. LLC (www.mrmrecycling.com)-to help recycle televisions and other electronic equipment they sell in the United States. The company will administer a nationwide network of 280 locations as col-lection centers for their products.
Similarly, Sony, Best Buy, Hewlett Packard and Office Depot are creating programs for people to recy-cle old electronic products. Best Buy has a Tech Trade-in program in which people can bring in their used electronics and receive a store gift card.
We all live on this planet together, so it behooves us to do all we can to develop practical solutions to the challenge of disposing, recycling and reclaiming parts of obsolete electronics equipment. What are your options? The Rethink Initiative (http://pages.ebay.com/rethink/index.html) brings industry, government and environmental organizations together to offer a fresh perspective and new answers to the challenge of e-waste. One of the initiative’s members, eBay, is encouraging everyone in its community of more than 157 million members to use eBay to find homes for any idle computers they might have.
IBM has long suggested that you donate or recycle your old desktop instead of trashing it. If it’s less than five years old, your computer can probably be put to good use by a school or charity. Otherwise, the best option is recycling. To find a recycler near you, visit the National Center for Electronics Recy-cling web site, www.electronicsrecycling.org.
The same suggestions apply to TV sets, cell phones and other electronic products. For example, shelters for battered women are always eager to receive cell phones because most are capable of making 911 calls, even without a service contract. Homeless shelters are a good bet for TV sets. The possibilities are limited only by your imagination and willingness to seek them out.
Whose backyard? Everyone’s backyard!