Thursday, October 22, 2009


Mike Anane Interview

Ghanaian journalist, Mike Anane, began corresponding with SVTC in late 2008 about ewaste dumping in Accra. In our spring newsletter, Lauren Ornelas, our campaign director, interviewed Anane on the e-waste being shipped to Ghana under the guise of charity. Earlier this month, ABC TV visited the Agbogbloshie dumpsite in Ghana with Mr. Anane to document the very conditions Mr. Anane had described to lauren.

We are happy to post Lauren’s interview with Mr. Anane in its entirety below.

LO: What do you do in Ghana?

MA: I am currently campaigning to stop the shipments of electronic waste from the industrialized countries to Ghana. Professionally I am an independent environmental Journalist.

LO: How long have you noticed the problem with e-waste?

MA: I noticed the problem some six years ago but it was intermittent but these days several containers loaded with e- waste arrive in the country daily from these countries including the US and I am talking of between 250 to 300 containers full of toxic end of life computers and television sets.
Mike Anana standing next to a pile of e-waste (Credit: Mike Anana)

Mike Anana standing next to a pile of e-waste. (Credit: Mike Anana)

These discarded electronic items are not functional. They are junk and toxic. Nobody wants them in their backyard because of the health and environmental implications but they are sent to Ghana and dumped all over the place. But in Ghana, there are no mechanisms in place to properly dispose of the e-waste or recycle them.

LO: Where does most of the e-waste come from? (what countries?)

MA: Majority of the e-waste come from the US, UK, Holland Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Italy, France etc

It is easy to tell their country of origin because some of the e-waste still bears their ownership labels and addresses.

LO: What types of e-waste is most common? (computers, TVs,)

MA: They are mainly computers and television sets.

LO: Is there a particular company that you see a lot of e-waste from? (Example HP, Dell?)

MA: All the companies including Apple, Dell Toshiba, HP, Philips, Panasonic have their e-waste sent here to Ghana.

LO: What is done with the e-waste?

MA: Usually the e-waste is shipped into Ghana from the US under the guise of second hand reusable items. When they arrive at the port of Tema in Ghana, Ghanaian businessmen hoping to find working computers and TVs go to the port where they buy these items untested, the rest of the e-waste is then sent to the e-waste dump at Agbogbloshie where they are dumped at the open air dumps.
Ghana dumpsite with burning computer wires (Credit: Mike Anana)

Ghana dumpsite with burning computer wires. (Credit: Mike Anana)

Majority of the e-waste bought by Ghanaian businessmen from the port here also ends up at the dumpsite as they simply do not work and cannot be refurbished since they are obsolete with some parts broken.

LO: Who handles the e-waste? (adults, children, men, women)

MA: At the e-waste dumps children some as young as 5 years can be seen daily breaking and dismantling the e-waste -computers and TV sets. The children wear no protective gear and they are exposed daily to the toxic elements in the e-waste. They then burn the wires and other parts to extract the copper.

LO: Have you noticed any types of health problems associated with the e-waste?

MA: The children and others who work at the dumpsite complain of persistent headaches, respiratory problems, chest pains and headache. One of the children told me that he could not run as he used to so he is not able to play and run around with other kids.

I have also been informed that a 28 year old man who worked at the e-waste dump has been diagnosed with cancer after he complained that when he coughs or spits he finds blood in his sputum. His brother who also works at the e-waste dumpsite disclosed this to me.

LO: Have you noticed any types of environmental problems due to the e-waste?

MA: With regards to the environmental problems they are many. For instance two water bodies run through the dumpsite, a lagoon and a river, both are now biologically dead and e-waste dumping in the area is a major contributoring factor as some of the e-waste is dumped directly into the lagoon and the river.

Further, each time it rains the toxic substances at the dumpsite and the banks of the river are flushed into the lagoon and the river both then empty the cocktail of poisons into the sea not far from the area. The lagoon and the river contain no fishes or other living organisms.

The breaking of the computers and TV sets release so much lead from the CRT’s into the soil and ground water. The burning of the plastics, wires and other parts of the computers also releases toxic fumes laden with cadmium, brominated flame retardants and others into the soil as well and into the atmosphere. The shipments of e-waste from the US and others certainly have immense implications for the health and environment of the country.

Over the years I have been collecting and filming e waste shipped into the country from US, the photos of e-waste in Ghana, some still bearing their ownership labels of institutions in the US, go a long way in proving that the US is shipping used electronic devices containing toxic substances to Ghana with little regulation and enforcement to protect people and the environment here.

In Ghana, we do not have any mechanisms to recycle or properly dispose of e-waste that is shipped here, rather children some as young as 5 years troop to the e -waste dump in Accra daily to break CRT monitors and also burn the wires in these end-of-life computers and television sets to extract copper.

This method is not only crude and inefficient but it has virtually no human health or environmental protection.

Really the question is whether there are rules and regulations in the US covering shipment of e-waste overseas, does the US Environmental Protection Agency care? If they do then they should initiate investigations into the shipments of e-waste to Ghana from the US. The ownership labels the e-waste that I have collected could provide some clues.
(Credit: Mike Anane)

Computer found at Ghana dumpsite. (Credit: Mike Anane)

The cost to the environment in Ghana and the health of people here is increasingly becoming obvious and unbearable and the US EPA cannot be absolved from blame, indeed the US EPA is complicit in these environmental crimes. America can’t continue to ship its toxic electronic waste to Ghana and pretend that all is well. The relevant regulatory institutions and concerned organizations and individuals in the US need to act fast in the face of the increasing shipments of hazardous waste to Ghana. This is my humble appeal.

Make sure that your e-waste doesn’t get exported. Find a responsible recycler near you.



with horrendous images & stories




good site for hispano-hablantes

Wednesday, October 21, 2009



Server farms: Where the internet lives

2008 Issue 11

By David Parsley

They may look like simple sheds but server farms are the nerve centres of the digital age. And considering they can cost up to £1,000/ft2, building them is big business for M&E contractors. Report includes sustainability discussion

Thousands upon thousands, rows upon rows of humming beasts are fenced into giant steel pens. They are constantly rigged up to feed a world addicted to what they provide. We’re not talking about agriculture, but a booming sector of the building industry – server farms. Our intense hunger for a computerised lifestyle has, since the dramatic growth of the internet in the mid-nineties, led to voracious demand for these giant data centres. As a result, the market in building them more than doubled last year. It’s a fast-moving market, with designs changing as rapidly as the technology that the centres store, and sustainability and threats from terrorism adding extra challenges.

Data centres are innocuous looking, if highly secured, buildings that appear to be little more than industrial sheds to the untrained eye. But that is deceptive. Inside, they are arguably the most technologically advanced buildings in the world, the lifeline for a population hooked on accessing the internet 24/7, 365 days a year.

So how big is the market? Well, pretty large, because these herds of servers locked up in their pens feed all the nation’s major institutions, from investment banks to government departments. CB Richard Ellis, a real estate adviser in this sector, says 105,720m2 of space was taken up in the first three-quarters of 2007 – the latest figure available. The cost of a jumbo data centre, say about 46,450m2, can rocket to over £100m. Once built, users, used to paying about £65/ft2 for even the most plush City office, will have to fork out between £500 and £1,000/ft2 to ensure the data servers feeding their web capability are secure, up to date and fail-safe.

The reason for the high costs is simple : if the servers at a major global bank fail then it is at risk of losing access to world markets and, as a result, possibly billions of pounds worth of trade. There’s also the need for triple back-up measures to ensure the systems do not fail and security to protect sites from possible terrorist activity or natural disasters. With technology changing so fast, some argue a data centre is out of date within three years, again leading to expensive overhauls – which means there’s plenty of potential for repeat business.

Andrew Jay, a senior director and head of CBRE’s technology practice group, says: “One of the most critical factors when locating a data centre is security. If you are an investment bank you need to know your servers will never fail as the consequences can mean loss of many millions if not billions of pounds. So server farms must be away from risky places, such as airports.”

With such a focus on technological requirements, about two-thirds of the cost of each data centre is spent on M&E contractors. And, while architects may lead on an office development, M&E consultants set the tone for a server farm project.

Robert Thorogood is a director at Hurley Palmer Flatt, which is one of the UK’s key players in the sector, both as an M&E consultant and structural engineer. He’s in no doubt as to how unique and specialist this sector is. “Data centres house a factory of IT equipment that has to be looked after carefully under a wide variety of conditions,” he says. “Load densities, resilience levels and environment are all discussed at length.”

Data centres are categorised in terms of resilience and reliability from tiers I to IV. Clients are currently demanding tiers III and IV, for which the M&E cost is likely to be at least 70% of the total construction cost. This splits into capital plant (up to half of the 70%) and installation. Thorogood says: “As with most buildings, the shell and structure have to be there first in order to install the equipment and systems. Typically long-lead items are generators, chillers and UPS systems, but also very importantly the steelwork to support it.”

Server farms have been accused of not being the greenest of buildings. They have huge generators to ensure constant supply in the event of a power outage, and each computer system, electrical component and server is powered not by one, but two leads, in case one fails. The heat these buildings emit is unavoidable, admit a number of players. While efforts are made to reduce heat emission, such as turning off internal cooling controls if the outside temperature can do the job naturally, it is a struggle to make such buildings greener.

Thorogood says: “There is huge pressure to make data centres sustainable. There is a large demand for energy, primarily driven by the IT itself (about 45% of the total) and the cooling systems (about 35 to 40%). Realistically, it is not possible to make data centres completely sustainable, but you can make them more sustainable and be more carbon efficient by a variety of methods.”

Sustainability tricks include using freecooling on chillers, variable speed drives on pumps and elevating chilled water temperatures. For planning, most notably in Greater London, the 10% – soon to be 20% – renewable requirement is key. For data centres this can only realistically be provided using trigeneration, which is similar to CHP with the added benefit of providing cooling with an absorption chiller.

But the demand for power is insatiable – and growing. Thorogood says in the late eighties, 400-800W/m2 was typical, in the dotcom period it was 750-1,000W/m2 and in 2004-2006 it climbed to about 1,000-1,200W/m2. Now 1,500-2000W/m2 is typical.

Terrorism is another issue influencing how data centres are built. Just a year ago, Scotland Yard uncovered evidence al-Qaeda had been plotting to bring down the internet in the UK. In a series of raids, detectives recovered computer files revealing that terrorist suspects had targeted a high-security internet “hub” in London. The facility, run by data centre provider Telehouse Europe in the Docklands, houses one of the UK’s most important server farms.

With such threats, the cost of the build and high reliance on M&E, these projects are very demanding, which means changes are kept to a minimum. Thorogood says: “We are used to making changes at concept and scheme stages, but any later is a nightmare. We realise IT departments are likely to change their equipment line-ups, and so we build a degree of flexibility into the design, but the infrastructure has to remain unless the client is prepared to see a major cost impact.”

Procurement for such projects very much depends on the client’s requirements and degree of control it requires. Most clients want lots of control over the procurement and then want to unload the risk once procured, so they try to handover the major equipment to the main or key M&E contractors.

As the sector is tightly controlled by only a few big players (see box, below) those attempting to enter what is a lucrative market should remember that no major institution is going to trust a supplier without a proven track record.

CBRE’s Jay says: “The barriers to entering this sector are particularly high. Any firm considering entering the market should buy in experience from a rival or start small and build up a track record.”

It’s big business if you can get it. With the figures for 2007 set to show the market rose by about 150% on the previous year, there’s little doubt our hunger for the factory-farmed internet will continue unabated.

Read more:


Thanks to Rick Maxwell for the tip

Friday, October 16, 2009


Headaches ahead for e-waste recycling
Published: Friday 16 October 2009

As the EU prepares to review its electronic waste legislation, industry is calling for a reality check of a European Commission proposal setting binding waste collection targets for manufacturers and making them pay for collecting consumers' scrap.

The European Commission estimates that each European currently generates 17-20 kg of waste electric and electronic equipment per year. This includes anything from light bulbs to computers, TV sets, mobile phones, kettles and refrigerators.

The 2003 EU Directive on Waste from Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) aims to increase the re-use, recycling and recovery of such waste, but has come under fire for being too complicated, costly and even impossible to implement, leaving room for further improvement and simplification.

The Commission tabled a proposalPdf external to review the WEEE Directive in December 2008 (EurActiv 04/12/08). Among the changes suggested, the EU executive is asking member states to encourage manufacturers to finance differentiated waste collection and de facto transfer the costs to consumers. In line with the 'polluter pays' principle set out in the EU Treaties, the Commission is keen to shift responsibility from taxpayers to consumers.

The Commission is proposing to change the collection target for Waste from Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) from the current 4kg/capita per year ('one size fits all') to a variable binding target of 65% of the average weight of equipment placed on the market during the two previous years.

But producers argue that the target is not realistic as only 30% of household WEEE comes back to producers' recycling systems. The rest is collected for profit by municipalities, recyclers and other actors operating outside the official system or illegally shipped to third countries, said Hewlett Packard's European waste policy advisor, Mark Dempsey on 14 October.

Achieving the collection target is thus held back by the fact that much WEEE is not in the official system and producers cannot get their hands on it, he told a meeting on the WEEE recast organised by DigitalEurope in Brussels.

Thorsten Brunzena from the European Commission's environment department acknowledged that nobody knows where some 50-60% of the WEEE goes, as only 30% is officially recycled and 12% still ends up in landfills.


Dempsey noted that the Commission proposal may lead into a situation in which producers are obliged to buy WEEE to reach their collection target. However, any trade of WEEE leads to an artificial increased cost of recycling without any environmental benefit, he said.

Such "profiteering" has recently been recorded in the UK, where producers have seen recyclers increase the price of 'recycling certificates' sold to producers who need to achieve their recycling targets, Dempsey said.

"Profiteering happens. Recyclers sit on their WEEE and keep municipalities and producers hostage, leading to an unnecessarily high cost of recycling," agreed Pascal Leroy, secretary-general of the WEEE Forum, an industry group.

There might also be a problem with the correlation between the amount of WEEE put on the market and the waste after two years, noted Steve Andrew from the UK Department for Business Innovation and Skills. In other words, linking sales and collection targets might lead to the drawing up of a target beyond the WEEE that is available on the market.

Extended producer responsibility

Meanwhile, Thorsten Brunzena stressed the need for ambitious collection targets to "dry out" the unofficial "grey" WEEE markets. The EU executive is proposing that producers finance the costs of separate collection from private households.

"Producers need to do more to get the WEEE back through separate collection, but they need incentives to do so," he said, suggesting that producers either set up their own systems or strike deals with municipalities and organise awareness-raising campaigns, for example.

Pascal Leroy, secretary-general of the WEEE Forum, said that it is inappropriate to single out a single actor as responsible for recycling targets. "Member states should be in charge as they have legal powers to introduce taxes and force action - something that producers don't have," he added.

Furthermore, Leroy thinks setting up different collection routes for e-waste would be "inconvenient and inefficient" and that municipalities should be in charge of that.

Meanwhile, St├ęphane Arditi from the European Environmental Bureau, a green group, believes that making producers more responsible of their WEEE would lead to a "virtuous competitiveness cycle". In a drive to cut down costs as much as possible, he said producers would start designing products that are easier and cheaper to re-use and recycle.

Arditi argued that the current Eco-design Directive is too focused on energy efficiency and that a "recyclability measurement" needs to be added to the product design requirements. He also said that producers should only pay the real price of the end-of-life cost of a product, but recognised that measuring the exact cost for different products is still difficult.

Member states failed to deliver on current directive

The current WEEE directive already has tools to achieve much higher electronic waste recycling, "but member states have failed to use these tools to improve the situation," argued Jean-Willem Scheijgrond, senior environment director at Philips.

This is why the EU wants to put the responsibility on producers to see whether they manage to do better, he argued. Meanwhile, business "does not have the tools" to live up to these ambitions, he added.

The Commission's Brunzena agreed that "a lot of measures are already in the texts and should be better used". He promised that the Commission would have "a closer eye" on member states to ensure that they draw up registers and report on their WEEE collectors.
Next steps:

* 31 Aug. 2009: MEP Florenz Karl-Heinz (EPP) appointed as European Parliament's rapporteur on the recast.
* 3-5 Nov. 2009: First discussion on the recast in the Parliament's environment committee.
* 23 Oct. 2009: Council debate on WEEE recast.
* 6 April 2010: Scheduled adoption of the Parliament environment committee's report.
* 18 May 2010: First reading in the Parliament plenary scheduled.

European Union

* Commission: Proposal for a directive on waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE)Pdf external (3 December 2008) [Commission staff working paper - impact assessment]Pdf external [summary of the impact assessment]Pdf external
* Commission memo: Questions and answers on the revised directive on waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE)external (3 December 2008)
* Commission: Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipmentexternal

Business & Industry

* Digitaleurope (former EICTA - the voice of the European digital technology industry: Preliminary position on WEEE recastexternal (13 July 2009)
* European Engineering Industries Association (Orgalime): Orgalime Position on Revision of the WEEE DirectivePdf external (18 June 2009)
* European Association of electrical and elctronic waste take back stystems (WEEE Forum): WEEE Forum vision on e-waste policy principlesPdf external (24 April 2009)
* European Committee of Domestic Equipment Manufacturers (CECED): CECED Position on Revision of the WEEE DirectivePdf external (March 2009)
* European Electronics Recyclers Association (EERA): EERA Position Paper on possible amendments to Annex II of Directive 2002/96/EC on WEEEPdf external (26 March 2009)
* Digitaleurope (former EICTA - the voice of the European digital technology industry: Technology industry criticizes Europen Commission for unachievable recycling proposalsexternal (3 December 2008)
* European Association of electrical and elctronic waste take back stystems (WEEE Forum): WEEE collection systems of the WEEE Forum are a beacon of stability in these turbulent timesexternal (3 December 2008)
* European Association of electrical and elctronic waste take back stystems (WEEE Forum): Review of the Directiveexternal
* European Electronics Recyclers Association (EERA): European electronics recyclers experience drastic market changesPdf external (27 November 2008)


* European Environmental Bureau (EEB): EEB position paper on the proposal for the revision of the directive on waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE)Pdf external (15 June 2009)



Thursday, October 15, 2009

good info from the california energy commission

Frequently Asked Questions - FAQs
Energy Efficiency Standards for Televisions
Just the Facts, the Truth About Proposed TV Standards
(Acrobat PDF file, 2 pgs)
Picture of LCD televisions in showroom.

What exactly is being proposed for new televisions?

The California Energy Commission is proposing energy efficiency standards for new televisions measuring 58 inches (1,400 square inches) and smaller in California beginning in 2011 and 2013. The standards would improve the energy efficiency of televisions without affecting the quality of the television.

Is California considering banning plasma, large screen, or HD televisions?

No, the state is not banning any type of TV. Consumers have the freedom to choose any type and size of television that meets the efficiency standard.

Why propose energy efficiency standards for televisions now?

In California, televisions (along with DVRs, DVD players, and cable boxes) now consume 10 percent of a home's electricity. Increasing sales of flat screen televisions, larger screen sizes, the growing number of TVs per household, and increased daily use of televisions all contribute to greater electricity consumption.

Does this affect the television in my home?

No, the proposed standard has no effect on existing televisions. It only applies to TVs sold in California after January 1, 2011.

Why enact these regulations?

These proposed standards will save consumers money on their electricity bill, conserve energy, protect the environment, and achieve it with on-the-shelf technology currently available. Additionally, these regulations will help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and decrease the need to build additional, large power plants.

When will this new technology be available?

The technology to make TVs more energy efficient is available now and currently used now in a variety of models. More than 1,000 models already meet the 2011 standard. Please download this PDF file (105 kb) for a list of models that already meet these proposed standards.

Will this proposal cause job losses in California?

A high-powered television industry lobby assumes that televisions that do not comply with the proposed efficiency standards will simply go away leaving a void in the marketplace. For an industry that prides itself in innovation, this premise is simply flawed. Innovation, like energy efficiency, drives the market and offers new televisions with new features for a media-savvy consumer. New energy-efficient models will take the place of non-compliant TVs offering the same or better picture and performance. Consumers overwhelmingly want efficient TVs, retailers now will be able to market their products to a desirable demographic.

Who is supporting these proposals?

The largest manufacturer of flat screen TVs in the nation, Vizio; television component manufacturers 3M and Agoura Technologies; the LCD Television Association; the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), and all three major California electric utility companies (Pacific Gas and Electric, San Diego Gas & Electric, and Southern California Edison) endorse the proposed regulations.

Many well-known retailers including Wal*Mart, Costco, and Sam's Club have all agreed to emphasize selling energy efficient TVs.

When would these proposed standards take effect?

The first standard (Tier 1) would take effect January 1, 2011, and reduce energy consumption by average of 33 percent. The second measure (Tier 2) would take effect in 2013 and, in conjunction with Tier 1, reduce energy consumption by an average of 49 percent.

Why are energy efficiency standards important?

Despite increased population and more appliances consuming power in homes and businesses, energy efficiency standards have helped keep per capita electricity consumption in California flat for the past 30 years.

California's per capita electricity consumption has remained constant at approximately 7,000 kilowatt-hours (kWh) for the last 30 years due in large part to strict standards for homes and appliances. The rest of the U.S. has increased 40 percent (or roughly 12,000 kWh per person). See

While new power plants with an installed capacity of 13,180 megawatts were built in the last 10 years, efficiency standards have helped the state avoid building several additional power plants.

Why not regulate refrigerators instead?

Actually, the Energy Commission has passed regulations on refrigerators, air conditioners, and lighting among other appliances. By implementing standards on inefficient refrigerators 30 years ago, Californians now enjoy less expensive appliances and greater comfort, features, and convenience at 25 percent of the electricity consumption. Refrigerators today use one-fourth the amount of electricity as those 30 years ago.

Why does the Energy Commission issue efficiency standards?

Energy efficiency is the cleanest and cheapest form of "renewable" energy. Part of the Commission's mandate is to adopt energy efficiency standards for appliances that require a significant amount of energy on a statewide basis. Regulations proposed by the Energy Commission must be cost-effective, energy efficient, and technically feasible.

How much will this add to my cost for buying a new television?

In most cases, adding efficiency technologies in televisions does not result in increased cost of the television because other components can be reduced, offsetting any increased cost.

How much money can these proposals save?

These proposals can save consumers $18 to nearly $30 per year per television.

How much energy can these proposals save consumers?

After the existing stock of televisions is replaced, these proposed standards will save 3,831 gigawatt hours (GWh) in 2011; 2,684 GWh in 2013. The total savings is 6,515 GWh.

What does 6,515 gigawatt hours translate to?

The total energy savings of 6,515 GWh is enough energy to power 864,000 single-family homes for an entire year. That's enough electricity to power the cities of Anaheim, Burbank, Glendale, and Palo Alto combined.

How many televisions are there in California?

There are an estimated 35 million TVs in California consuming 8,772 gigawatt hours annually. A gigawatt hour is equivalent to having 40,000 televisions on for five hours a day for an entire year.

Why propose standards if the federal Energy Star® program already exists?

The national Energy Star® program is a voluntary program that induces manufacturers to produce efficient televisions to achieve an Energy Star label but does not prevent the sale of inefficient televisions that will cost consumers money over time. Most Energy Star televisions on sale today already meet the proposed Tier 1 standard.

Will these standards lead to an Internet 'black market' for noncompliant TVs?

No, the Energy Commission is working with major online retailers to ensure that televisions sold in California comply with the new energy efficiency regulations.

What is the next step in the process?

The Energy Commission will consider comments received in January and consider changes to the proposed standards. Additional public input will be sought at stakeholders meetings, public hearing, and written comments. A vote on this proposal is expected by summer 2009.

How much wattage do different types (CRT - cathode ray tube, liquid crystal display - LCD, plasma) of televisions use?

It's hard to compare CRTs to LCDs and plasmas. On average, CRTs use 0.23-watts per square inch of the screen, LCDs use 0.27-watts per square inch, and plasmas use 0.36-watts per square inch. Below are comparisons of the "average size" of each type of television and the wattage they use, and a comparison of wattage used by a 42-inch LCD versus a 42-inch plasma.

There are few direct-view CRTs that are as large as the big LCDs and plasma TVs. A 40-inch (diagonal), direct-view HDTV is the industry's largest direct-view cathode ray tube. It uses 280 watts while in operation and only one watt in stand-by mode.


California appears poised to be first to ban power-guzzling big-screen TVs

Industry lobbying efforts appear to elicit little sympathy from the state Energy Commission, which may vote as soon as Nov. 4.

By Marc Lifsher

October 14, 2009

Reporting from Sacramento

The influential lobby group Consumer Electronics Assn. is fighting what appears to be a losing battle to dissuade California regulators from passing the nation's first ban on energy-hungry big-screen televisions.

On Tuesday, executives and consultants for the Arlington, Va., trade group asked members of the California Energy Commission to instead let consumers use their wallets to decide whether they want to buy the most energy-saving new models of liquid-crystal display and plasma high-definition TVs.

"Voluntary efforts are succeeding without regulations," said Doug Johnson, the association's senior director for technology policy. Too much government interference could hamstring industry innovation and prove expensive to manufacturers and consumers, he warned.

But those pleas didn't appear to elicit much support from commissioners at a public hearing on the proposed rules that would set maximum energy-consumption standards for televisions to be phased in over two years beginning in January 2011. A vote could come as early as Nov. 4.

The association's views weren't shared by everyone in the TV business. Representatives of some TV makers, including top-seller Vizio Inc. of Irvine, said they would have little trouble complying with tighter state standards without substantially increasing prices.

"We're comfortable with our ability to meet the proposed levels and implementation dates," said Kenneth R. Lowe, Vizio's co-founder and vice president.

Last month, the commission formally unveiled its proposal to require manufacturers to limit television energy consumption in a way that has been done with refrigerators, air conditioners and dozens of other products since the 1970s.

"We would not propose TV efficiency standards if we thought there was any evidence in the record that they will hurt the economy," said Commissioner Julia Levin, who has been in charge of the two-year rule-making procedure. "This will actually save consumers money and help the California economy grow and create new clean, sustainable jobs."

Tightening efficiency ratings by using new technology and materials should result in "zero increase in cost to consumers," said Harinder Singh, an Energy Commission staffer on the TV regulation project.

California's estimated 35 million TVs and related electronic devices account for about 10% of all household electricity consumption, the Energy Commission staff reported. But manufacturers quickly are coming up with new technologies that are making even 50-inch-screen models much more economical to operate.

New features, such as light-emitting diodes that consume tiny amounts of power, special reflective films and sensors that automatically adjust TV brightness to a room's viewing conditions, are driving down electricity consumption, experts said.

The payoff could be big for TV owners, said Ken Rider, a commission staff engineer. Average first-year savings from reduced electricity use would be an estimated $30 per set and $912 million statewide, he said.

If all TVs met state standards, Rider added, California could avoid the $600-million cost of building a natural-gas-fired power plant. Switching to more-efficient TVs could have an estimated net benefit to the state of $8.1 billion, the commission staff reported.

Consumer Electronics Assn. officials disputed that figure, arguing that it was based on out-of-date numbers that fail to account for recent industry innovations. "With voluntary compliance, manufacturers can meet the targets over time, managing the cost impact, yet not in any way impeding innovation," said Seth Greenstein, an association consultant.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009


Buying Green Can Be License For Bad Behavior, Study Finds

ScienceDaily (Oct. 9, 2009) — Just being around green products can make us behave more altruistically, a new study to be published in a forthcoming issue of Psychological Science has found.

But buying those same products can have the opposite effect. Researchers found that buying green can lead people into less altruistic behaviour, and even make them more likely to steal and lie than after buying conventional products. Buying products that claim to be made with low environmental impact can set up “moral credentials” in people’s minds that give license to selfish or questionable behavior.

“This was not done to point the finger at consumers who buy green products. The message is bigger,” says Nina Mazar, a marketing professor at University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management and a self-admitted green consumer. “At the end of the day, if we do one moral thing, IT doesn’t necessarily mean we will be morally better in other things as well.”

Mazar, along with her co-author Chen-Bo Zhong, an assistant professor of organizational behaviour at the Rotman School, conducted three experiments. The first found that people perceived green consumers to be more cooperative, altruistic and ethical than those who purchased conventional products. The second experiment showed that participants merely exposed to products from a green store shared more money in a subsequent experimental game, but those who actually made purchases in that store shared less. The final experiment revealed that participants who bought items in the green store showed evidence of lying and stealing money in a subsequent lab game.

But are people conscious of this moral green washing going on when they buy green products and, more importantly, the license they might feel to break ethical standards? Professors Mazar and Zhong don't know – and look forward to exploring that in further research.

Journal reference:

1. Nina Mazar, Chen-Bo Zhong. Do Green Products Make Us Better People? Psychological Science, in press

Adapted from materials provided by University of Toronto, Rotman School of Management.

Sunday, October 11, 2009


Iceland looks to serve the world

By Simon Hancock
BBC Click

Since the financial crisis, Iceland has been forced to retreat back from high octane bubble living to nature.

Fortunately, there is a lot of that nature to retreat to.

It is a breathtaking world of volcanoes, endless prairies and ethereal winter landscapes.

Not, you might think, the most obvious place to stick millions of the world's computer servers which are, for all their uses, rather less attractive.

But the country now wants exactly that - to become home to the world's computing power.

Behind all the large internet companies lurk massive and ever growing data centres chock full of servers churning away.

Google for instance is thought to have around a million of the things, but even less IT intensive operations, banks for example, need hundreds of thousands of servers to store all their data.

The problem is that while these computers look innocuous, they use a lot of energy.

There is of course the power you need for the servers themselves, but almost as significant is the energy used to keep them cool.

"For every watt that is spent running servers," says Dr Brad Karp, of University College London, "the best enterprises most careful about minimising the energy of cooling and maximising efficiency typically find they are spending 40-60% extra energy on just cooling them."

Cold rush

In Iceland, with its year round cool climate and chilly fresh water, just a fraction of this energy for cooling is needed. It means big savings.

Just outside Reykjavik, work is well advanced on the first site which its owners hope will spark a server cold rush.

In around a year - if all goes according to plan - the first companies will start leasing space in this data centre.

And if this proves successful more sites are planned.

The company expects demand to be huge because as the number of servers around the world grows, a big environmental cloud is looming - all that energy use means an increase in CO2 production.

Iceland has far more power than it can domestically use.

"The data centre industry now is on par with the airline industry as far as the carbon footprint," says Jeff Monroe, head of Verne Global - a data centre company working in Iceland.

“ A company would save greater than half a million metric tons of carbon annually ”
Jeff Monroe, CEO of Verne Global

"But, if you think about the growth of those two industries, the growth of the data centre industry is exponentially greater than the airline industry.

"The two are going to cross and we think that - just like the legislation that was passed in the UK concerning carbon footprint and power utilisation - it is going to be a growing concern across the industry."

So data centres are already producing as much CO2 as airlines.

While it has been below the radar until now, Verne Global thinks that with cloud computing on the rise, the carbon footprint of the digital world will soon become "unacceptably high".

And this is where Iceland's natural resources really come into their own.

Enormous savings

The volcanic forces which shaped the landscape have also gifted the country masses of geothermal power - 100% of the country's electricity is renewable and basically carbon free, much generated from water heated far below the ground.

Mr Monroe explains what would happen if a company moved its data centre to Iceland.

"The carbon savings would be enormous.

"For example, if a large internet media company operating thousands and thousands of servers relocated its servers to Iceland, that company would save greater than half a million metric tons of carbon annually."

So you have the cooler climate and an abundance of green energy.

But you would not want to move your previous data centre to what is effectively the middle of nowhere unless it had some good connections.

Iceland has been busying itself laying fibre optic cables to connect the country with North America and Europe.

The cables coming in provide a capacity of more than five terabits/sec - all with server farms in mind.

Travelling down this pipe, data sited in Iceland is just 17 milliseconds from London. Sitting at home on YouTube you would never know, but even that is too slow for some.

Big industry

Gudmundur Gunnarsson, head of communications company Farice, explains some of the problems.

"There are very sensitive financial services that cannot even go outside the M25 in London", he says.

"So everything has to be within that circle, but for approximately at least 70% of other traffic, this delay is more than satisfactory."

Even where speed is not an issue however, the allure of Iceland is not for everyone.

Companies will have to overcome their natural server-hugging tendencies, and some may harbour security fears of storing their data remotely.

But having been through the financial mill Iceland hopes and believes in the next five to 10 years this will be one of its biggest industries.

And, in an irony not lost on a country brought to its knees by finance, one early customer rumoured to have signed a deal to move servers here is - well who else - one of America's biggest investment banks.
Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2009/10/09 15:31:58 GMT

Thursday, October 8, 2009

HERE I AM going on and on

Tuesday, October 6, 2009



great network


The Tipping Point offers this:

Tipping point: Australia's e-waste crisis
Jeff Angel [1]

The 2009 Update of the Tipping Point report estimates that there are 234 million items of e-waste in or on their way to landfill.

The Report shows that a recycling scheme for televisions and computers would create 2,570 jobs nationally by the year 2015. This could be increased to 6,190 new jobs if all electronic waste items were included.

Environment Victoria Campaigner Fraser Brindley said that e-waste recycling made economic sense. “The government’s own figures show that a recycling scheme for televisions and computers would have a net economic benefit,” Mr Brindley said. “We’ve shown that this will translate into thousands of green collar jobs across the country.”

Mr Brindley also said that a recycling scheme for televisions and computers was a good start, but that the federal government should include all other e-waste in the future. “Televisions and computers are only 38% of the e-waste going to landfill,” Mr Brindley said. “We also need to deal with the mountains of mobile phones, printers, games consoles, videos and stereo that are not being recycled.”

This 2009 Update follows the release of the consultation regulatory impact statement (RIS) for televisions and computers. This is a government process that will inform the 5 November 2009 meeting of the Environment Protection and Heritage Council (EPHC), at which Ministers have promised to announce a recycling scheme for televisions and computers.


--is available here

Monday, October 5, 2009


is owned by GE, one of the world's largest polluters--but don't worry! Read this TV Week story!

NBCU Enlists All TV Units in Eco Agenda

By Allison J. Waldman

In 2008, Lauren Zalaznick, president of NBC Universal Women and Lifestyle Entertainment Networks, undertook the leadership role in an environmental awareness initiative for NBC Universal called Green Is Universal. A year later, the commitment to green remains an integral part of the NBC Universal brand and corporate identity.

“I think the Green Is Universal initiative has really taken off both externally in how we’re interfacing with our consumers, and internally as far as how we as a company are really embracing green and driving it through our own operation,” said Beth Colleton, vice president of Green Is Universal.

When the program began one of the goals was the creation of a handbook about how to enact green production. Today the handbook exists and is actively in use. “Referencing the manual, what we did worked really well,” said Colleton. “We did some pilot work on film and TV shows to really learn how to create green production and worked that information into a play-by-play instruction manual – one for film and one for TV – that is now integrated into the business process of our Universal Pictures, Focus Features and Universal Media Studio operations.”

The green process isn’t found only in production, but also all business offices and operations.

"Green is sometimes very visual, you know you can see it right there with recycling, but sometimes green is the absence of activity. You might be in an office or in a TV studio and not realize that some green changes have been put in place,” said Colleton.

For instance, a green message might be found in a copy room. “We can communicate behavioral changes to our crews and employees, so there’ll be a message that if they print less, what the effect will be on the environment. The physical branding approach not only communicates information about best practices that are taking place, but informs our work force about the ways they can participate in change,” she said.

One new project NBCU is enacting is called “The Green Apprentice.” “We’ve put additional dollars aside to spur innovation and really encourage our work force to look for cutting-edge innovative ways to implement energy waste and water savings throughout our operations. The proposals are out right now and they’re starting to come in,” said Colleton. “Internally, we have just seen so much traction with green. People are looking for creative ways to implement green and are looking for more long-term solutions.”

Despite the recession NBCU hasn’t abandoned this effort, and the public has come to identify NBC as the green network. “We have some research that we did a few months ago that shows that. Consumers and the general public see the value of green not just in their belief system but in the way that they actually spend their dollars,” said Colleton.

The Green Is Universal message will be underscored during sweeps. “It’s the same as last year. From November 15 to 22, all of the brands of NBC Universal will go green, so to speak, and be dedicated to delivering green information in entertainment and content those seven days,” said Colleton.

Whether on Bravo or USA or NBC, many of the performers have shown great support for Green is Universal. “We are really lucky because our talent is so engaged in the cause of the environment that they often come to us looking for ways to get involved,” she said.

For the on-air, award-winning “The More You Know” PSA program, 23 different stars volunteered to participate in last year’s campaign. “We eventually had to tell folks beyond the 23 that we couldn’t take anymore. They’ve also participated in volunteer events and other public service initiatives to really drive the public to engage here,” said Colleton.

“One of the key differences is that green isn’t just a cause anymore, it’s really a lifestyle that people are recognizing locally, so it’s not a distant 100 years in the future what’s the state of the environment going to be,” she said. “People are seeing the effects of the environment in their everyday lives, so they are very much engaged in trying to change their own behavior for the betterment of themselves, their families and their communities, and most importantly their children.”

For NBCU, the initiative has proven to be a success. “Just this spring, the Audubon Society gave us the Rachel Carson Award,” said Colleton. “Since we’re not a manufacturing company or a building or textile company, they were appreciative of what we have in our arsenal to make a difference. We can communicate with 100 million people during a month and arm them with the right information so that they can make those changes in their daily lives. We do that in our entertainment shows, news properties and we deliver this information all year long.”


Thursday, October 1, 2009

ZDNet Speaks re Apple

September 30th, 2009
Apple declares its environmental credentials

Posted by Heather Clancy @ 5:50 am

Much has been cyber-ink has been spilled (spilt?) over the past several days about Apple’s new Environmental disclosure site called, aptly enough, Apple and the Environment.

For all its vaunted and legendary hipness, Apple hasn’t been as vocal as its high-tech rivals in the green IT department, probably because it hasn’t had such spectacular things to say until just recently. Remember the public spat between Dell and Apple over green technology claims earlier this year? Apple hasn’t exactly scored very well on certain rankings, either, compared with its biggest rivals.

Now it has some good-ish news to report, like the fact that it takes 40 percent less packaging to ship 32,000 MacBook notebook computers in 2009 compared with what it took in 2006. Or that the 2008 model of the 15-inch MacBook Pro emits less carbon dioxide per hour of use than does a 60-watt lightbulb. OR, that in 2008, the company recycled 33 million pounds of electronic waste, or roughly 41.9 percent of the total weight of all the products it sold 7 years earlier. Although the actual amount recycled may seem really teeny compared with other technology companies, what percentage of the products that those companies ship out into the world actually are recycled?

Even Apple high priest Steve Jobs, who has been obviously been laying low for months for health reasons, is speaking out about the company’s green profile. When Steve talks about something, you KNOW its a pretty big deal for the entire company.

As you might expect, Apple’s new environmental reporting site is highly graphical, which gives you a pretty quick at a glance idea of how much damage you’re doing to the planet when you buy an Apple product.

What I’m REALLY longing for, though, is a better comparative site, where I could analyze an Apple model against, say, a Dell model in a more straightforward manner. There are so many variables that go into some of the green IT certifications (ala EPEAT), that you’re never really sure if you’re comparing apples to apples.

Now, I know many of you corporate IT types are thinking at this point: “Who cares about Apple?” You probably don’t, although plenty of small-business owners who make technology buying decisions DO care, especially as the Macintosh OS gains more business-friendly features that make them easier to manage than the alternatives. This is important information for them.

That is because while many high-tech vendors have been falling over themselves for months to preach the green IT gospel to the largest companies AND to consumers, the concerns of smaller businesses have been largely left out of the conversation.

Apple has now made it awfully easy to analyze the impact of its technology and of the process by which its products are made and get into your hands. Not to take away from the great work that Dell and Hewlett-Packard have done in that regard, but the simplicity of Apple’s disclosures is definitely worth emulating.

Heather Clancy

ghanaian perspective

Comment: Is Ghana bridging the digital divide or creating a digital dump?

Have you thought about the impact of all the used computers, second hand fridges, televisions, mobile phones and other used appliances imported into the country and what becomes of them at the end of their life span? The West speaks a lot about global warming and how fast the world is overheating and ice in the oceans are melting. However, the impact of their electronic waste or E-waste could have far reaching consequences for our health in the future.

They come under the disguised description of second hand goods and donations from the West meant to bridge the digital divide and improve the lot of Africans. Research and investigation on e-waste into Ghana has revealed Ghana is gradually becoming one of the world’s digital dumping grounds for electronic waste. On the outskirts of Accra, Agbobloshie is fast becoming a record breaker in e-waste compilation. One study estimated that a hundred million tonnes of e-waste each year piles up at Agbobloshie and other surrounding dump sites in the country.

Why should we be concern? Our health and that of young men and women are being endangered by the highly toxic fumes released from the burning of electronic cables and components. People’s lives are being endangered daily in the name of earning a living for themselves and families. Children mostly under eighteen are seen at Agbobloshie and other areas burning toxic plastics and electronic scraps in search of copper and iron to sell for a living. Magnets from old speakers are used to gather small pieces of minerals left at the burn sites.

The health implications are deadly and destructive in the long run. Toxic chemicals are released into the environment for us to inhale and slowly destroy the system. The scrap components contain chemicals like lead, mercury and brominated flame retardants. Other chemicals such as phthalates which interferes with sexual reproduction are laden within the fumes released. Cancer, lungs infection and a destruction of children developing reproductive system are some of the effects of the gases released from these burning electronic gadgets.

Do we need such donations and second hand electronics to endanger the lives of our people? Is the environmental protection agency, the ministry of trade and industry and civil society interested in reducing or eradicating the dangers these imports have on our society? We need to take more interest in what is imported in this country and how each one of us dispose of our electronic gadgets. Family members of ours who are engaged in importing heavy consignments of these scrap electronics called second hand goods must be made aware of the effects of their trade on society.

Ghana’s Communications Minister has given hints of the possibility of government enacting legislation to stop the dumping of e-waste into Ghana in a telephone interview with on Tuesday April 14, 2009. He added “we have taken a serious view of the situation and we are considering the passing of anti-dumping legislation, particularly of used computers.”

Emmanuel K. Dogbevi on Ghana business news website asserts the following: “Since April 2008, when the country’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the formation of a committee to deal with the situation nothing concrete has happened.”

Much of what has happened, have been paper work and tough talk by public officials who appear not to be fully aware of the specific extent of the dumping and its measured effects on the country’s environment and human health.

Indeed, much of what has been done in concrete terms in direct relations to the dumping of e-waste into Ghana, have been done by foreign countries. The European media also, unlike the Ghanaian media has given the situation serious coverage and broadcast.”
The legislation should be implemented now without delay. We’ve heard a lot of empty talk before. Immediate action can avert the dangerous consequences that lie ahead.

Responsible governance is a partnership between government and the citizenry. We in Africa should be more proactive about our future and not take such issues for granted. If our health and future is important to us, no one should force us to take action on these things. Spread the word and let us take steps to remedy this situation.
Africa has hope because Africa has you.

Credit: Joseph Foray Jnr.
[vice president, strategic planning for the 42nd Generation - an African Youth organization.]
Story from Myjoyonline.Com News: