Thursday, December 31, 2009


Motorola establishes take-back recycling program

Motorola, Inc. has established a take-back recycling program for its United States Enterprise Mobility Solutions (EMS) customers to help them responsibly dispose of used equipment.

The products covered in the program include all Motorola-branded enterprise mobility equipment, such as mobile and portable two-way radios; handheld mobile computers; barcode scanners; imagers; in-vehicle mobile workstations; accessories; network infrastructure equipment; and computers, laptops and monitors. Batteries are also included but must be removed from the equipment before they are shipped for recycling. There is no cost incurred by the customer; however, freight charges may be applied in some cases.

To return smaller or more portable items, customers can arrange shipment to one of Motorola’s e-waste recycling partners online. For larger equipment returns, customers are contacted for pick-up by a Motorola e-waste partner. Motorola audits its recyclers to ensure they comply with laws governing the disposal of electronic equipment, following the company’s supplier code of conduct and industry standards.

In 2008, Motorola collected more than 2,560 tons of electronic and electrical equipment waste for recycling. This includes take-back programs, internal electronics recycling efforts and community electronics recycling events sponsored by Motorola.


What Is Green IT, and Why Should You Care?
By Laurie McCabe
December 30, 2009

What is Green IT?

Green IT refers to the study and practice of using computers and IT resources in a more efficient and environmentally responsible way. Computers and computing eat up a lot of natural resources, from the raw materials needed to manufacture them, the power used to run them, and the problems of disposing them at end of life.
Why Should You Care?

All businesses are increasingly dependent on technology, and small business is no exception. We work on our PCs, notebooks and smart phones all day, connected to servers running 24/7. Because the technology refresh cycle is fast, these devices quickly become obsolete, and at some point — more often sooner than later — we dispose of old devices and replace them with new ones. We use massive quantities of paper and ink to print documents, many of which we promptly send to the circular file.

In the process, most businesses waste resources, in the form of energy, paper, money and time — resources you could invest to develop new products or services, or to hire and train employees. Even if you aren’t a tree hugger, it makes good business sense to green your IT environment and culture.
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Vendors Links to Green IT Initiatives
Dell Earth
HP Green Up
Energy, the Environment
and IBM
Intuit Green Snapshot
NetSuite Green

Fortunately, there are many simple steps you can take to do this, no matter what the size of your business, or how far along you are in the process. Many IT vendors have major initiatives underway to green their products, services and practices.

These include building computers with more environmentally friendly materials, designing them to be consume less energy, providing recycling programs to dispose of old systems, developing virtualization and cloud computing alternatives, and providing tips to businesses that want to go green.
What to Consider

Creating a sustainable business isn't just for big businesses. With help from several vendors (see links to their green initiatives in the side box), I’ve compiled some practical tips to help you get started or to continue on the path to go green and save green.


Eliminate paper, printer and packaging waste. Statistics from InfoTrends indicate that the average office worker used 130 pounds of paper in 2008. Try tools such as Green Print to make people “think before they print” and automatically eliminate things such as printing that extra page with only a footer or disclaimer on it.

Buy remanufactured toner cartridges and get personal ink cartridges refilled to save money and reduce waste. If you’re looking for a new printer, shop for one that automatically prints double-sided, such as Dell’s 2335dn Multi-function Laser Printer or HP’s LaserJet P2055d.

When shopping for new products, look for eco-friendly packaging. For instance, Dell recently announced that it will use highly renewable bamboo as packaging for its Inspiron Mini 10 and 10v netbooks.

Reduce power consumption. The Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance found that businesses can reduce their average power consumption through effective power management. “Set it and forget” tools, such smart power strips, automatically turn off peripheral devices when you turn off the main device.

When buying new equipment, look for EnergyStar 4.0 ratings and above. Try Edison, a free application that helps you monitor energy use and save energy. Intuit QuickBooks customers can use Intuit Green Snapshot to estimate their firm’s carbon footprint and get recommendations to conserve energy and dollars.

Recycle old equipment. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that only 18 percent of electronic waste was collected for recycling in 2007—while 82 percent, or 1.84 million tons, was disposed of, primarily in landfills. But it’s easy to recycle: At Gazelle you can sell and/or recycle all kinds of electronic devices, from mobile phones to printers. Through Dell and Goodwill’s Reconnect Partnership, you can donate unwanted devices. All proceeds go to support Goodwill — and you get a tax write-off.


Use Web conferencing instead of traveling to meetings. Web conferencing is a great way to go green — and save huge amounts of time and money. Ecopreneurist states that if every small business owner in the United States conducted one teleconference in lieu of a domestic business trip, we would save $25.4 billion dollars in travel expenses and 10.5 million tons of C02 in just one year.

Web conferencing vendors such as Adobe Acrobat Connect, Citrix GoToMeeting, IBM Lotus Sametime and Cisco Webex offer free 30-day trials. Newer entrants such as Dimdim and Zoho offer free Web conferencing.

Transition from paper-based to digital processes. Paper-based marketing, forms and faxes add a lot of trash to landfills. E-mail marketing solutions are greener and more affordable, flexible and interactive than direct mail. Free and low-cost online invoicing solutions such as Sage BillingBoss and Freshbooks, and online faxing solutions such as Myfax and RingCentral Fax also help cut down on paper waste.

Use cloud computing and software-as-a-service solutions (SaaS) instead of new, in-house applications. With cloud computing, multiple organizations share the same computing resources, and that increases utilization by making more efficient use of hardware resources.

For instance, researcher Greenspace found that with more than 6,000 customer companies sharing datacenter resources, NetSuite’s cloud ERP and CRM solution saved more than $61 million in energy bills per year, or nearly 595 million kilowatt-hours (kWh), the equivalent of nearly 423,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide per year.

You’ll find almost every kind of application in the cloud — from personal productivity applications to accounting to industry-specific solutions— for every size company. If you use dedicated hosting services, shop for green hosting providers that use solar or wind power, and take advantage of energy-saving technologies such as virtualization.


Enable staff to telecommute. While it may not work for every employee or business, the American Electronics Association estimates that we could conserve 1.35 billion gallons of gasoline yearly if every U.S. worker who has the ability to telecommute did so 1.6 days per week.

Technologies such as virtual private networks and collaboration tools such as HyperOffice and IBM LotusLive help employees work together from different locations.

Server and storage virtualization. Because hardware itself is relatively inexpensive, many mid-size and even small companies are facing server and storage sprawl. But by 2012, experts estimate that for every dollar you spend on a server, it will cost $1 to power and cool it.

Meanwhile, surveys show that up to 85 percent of system capacity goes unused. While you will have to invest in initial start-up costs, virtualization can help you improve resource utilization, reduce energy costs and simplify maintenance. Dell, HP and IBM each offer a range of comprehensive server and storage virtualization solutions and services.

Develop a thin-client strategy. Netbooks and other thin clients use about half the power of a traditional desktop PC. They are smaller, cheaper and simpler for manufacturers to build than traditional PCs or notebooks — and cheaper for you to buy and operate.

Thin clients run Web browsers, and/or remote desktop virtualization software —such as Microsoft Remote Desktop Services Citrix XenDesktop and VMware View —so you can use the desktop environment that you’re used to. With these solutions, you can also extend the life of older PCs and/or buy less expensive, refurbished PCs to save money and reduce waste.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009


Law will change regarding electronics in the trash
Oregon's recycling gurus have been breaking it to us gently for years: Throwing electronics into the garbage is a bad idea, they say. Now, with power from a law passed in 2007, they'll resort to tough love.

Beginning Jan. 1, it will be illegal to put some electronics -- specifically, televisions, monitors, computers and laptops -- in the trash.

And, thanks to fees Oregon has begun collecting from manufacturers, consumers will continue to be able to drop off these four types of items for free at a number of locations.

The new dumping ban will keep products known for a host of toxic components -- lead, mercury and cadmium, for example -- out of landfills where they could pose a threat to air, soil and water, said Lane County waste reduction specialist Sarah Grimm.

Better still, the e-waste goes to recyclers who break it down into its component parts -- from metals to plastics -- which can be reused in a process that consumes less energy than using virgin materials, said Kathy Kiwala, the e-waste project leader for the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality.

That means fewer greenhouse gas emissions, Kiwala said, citing a federal Environmental Protection Agency estimate that recycling 1 million computers is the equivalent of eliminating the annual emissions of 17,000 cars.

Recycling electronics isn't new. For years, Lane County has accepted e-waste at its Glenwood Receiving Station, Grimm said.

And the Eugene nonprofit agency NextStep Recycling has gained a national reputation for its focus on reusing computers and making them available to low-income residents.

But the county used to require residents to make an appointment to unload their old equipment, and charged a fee to take it.

NextStep also charged a fee to take TVs and monitors, said executive director Lorraine Kerwood. That fee made it possible for NextStep to make sure the gear that couldn't be reused was recycled responsibly, she said.

Last January, because of the new law, free recycling began in Oregon, with counties setting up locations where people could take their devices. In Lane County, residents jumped at the chance to avoid the fees.

"We saw an explosion," Grimm said. "What used to be a truck load (of electronics) every six weeks turned into a truck load a week or more," she said.

In 2008, Lane County collected 53 tons of the electronic devices covered by the new law. In the first 11 months of 2009, the county has collected 216 tons, Grimm said.

While it's good news from a landfill management standpoint, it's hit NextStep Recycling hard, Kerwood said. The nonprofit wanted to continue receiving people's electronic castoffs but could no longer charge the $15 fee it once collected for taking in TVs and monitors.

That money covered the cost of dismantling them and transporting them to a reliable northwest recycler who wouldn't ship the materials overseas where extraction of the metals and other useable parts is sometimes done in an unsafe manner.

The money NextStep receives from the state program -- just 6 to 8 cents per pound for the shredded parts destined for recycling -- doesn't support the nonprofit's primary mission: reusing electronics that still have some life in them, Kerwood said. Even though those electronics also are kept out of the landfill, NextStep gets no money for them from the state.

"Many organizations were negatively affected by the well-intentioned but shortsighted law," Kerwood said. "Our income was cut 40 percent when the law rolled out. We had worked for years to educate the public that there's a cost to doing it the right way."

NextStep also scrubs all the personal information off the computers and other electronic equipment that comes through its doors, she said.

NextStep and other electronics recyclers will continue to take all of the other items the new Oregon law doesn't cover, such as cell phones, printers, fax machines and scanners, Kerwood said.

Meanwhile, people caught throwing the banned electronics in the trash face a potential $500 per item fine, Grimm said.

The more likely scenario for those who do put a television in the trash is that it will be fished out by the garbage hauler and set on the curb with a note explaining the new law, said the DEQ's Kiwala.

If the hauler gets as far as a county transfer station with it, it could result in a warning letter from the Department of Environmental Quality, assuming workers are able to identify the person who threw it out, Kiwala said.

The new law allows households, nonprofit groups with 10 or fewer employees and small businesses to recycle seven of the covered electronic devices at a time. Larger businesses and nonprofit agencies can be charged for items exceeding the limit.

The DEQ Web site has a list of recyclers who work with larger businesses needing to recycle a lot of items, Kiwala said.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009


Sunday, December 20, 2009


EDF Innovation Exchange

A Clockwork Green?
Posted: 18 Dec 2009 07:58 AM PST
By Climate Corps Fellow

By Russell Baruffi, MBA/MS candidate, Erb Institute for Global Sustainable Enterprise, University of Michigan, 2009 Climate Corps fellow at Sony Pictures Entertainment, Member of Net Impact.

Entertainment, which seems like a fairly harmless indulgence from your a movie theatre or your couch, turns out to be remarkably wasteful and resource-intensive industry. Working for Sony Pictures this summer, I got to dig in onto the sets. A movie can make millions or it can flop, so the industry spares no incremental expense or resource to create the marginal extra pizzazz that will spellbind an audience. For the climactic scene of an upcoming big-budget tent-pole movie, I saw film-makers build a fake riverbed of wood, steel and foam block stretching five stories tall, which they sculpted into a downward sloping terrain with a realistic skin of trees, bushes, bamboo and boulders, and proceeded to pump 80 thousand gallons of water over it in a continuous loop to create an actual river on the set. In the biz of show biz, millions of extra dollars spent making a two-minute scene really pop can be good economics, so energy, water and resource throughput is big.

This leaves lots of room for improvement. Enter Sony Pictures Entertainment, one of the big studios that is trying to turn the beat around by articulating specific goals and reducing its impact (they’ve already found ways to re-use that steel and wood from the fake river); I was cast to advance energy and water sustainability projects for Sony’s sustainability project team this summer. I have spent most of my business school education focused on the importance of building the business case for sustainability investments in financial terms, but at Sony it became clear to me that narrative is just as important as numbers.

My work was financial at heart: I dug up low-cost, high-returns investments that would reduce the company’s carbon footprint and energy bill, a process that took me on a deep dive into Sony’s lighting and ventilation systems and data centers, all of which are massive energy drains with opportunities for upgrade investments with big net present values and virtually no-risk returns. (Salivating yet?) But businesses like Sony aren’t organized to achieve sustainability – they’re organized to make movies – so establishing a solid business case for investing in a data center efficiency upgrade requires cobbling together disparate stakeholders and data that either did not exist or had never been used, from unrelated parts of the company. And this is where narrative comes in.

When the department responsible for buying the pricey energy-efficient capital equipment is different from the department that gets the resulting energy savings- a challenge that almost any large business faces when its trying to reduce its utility bills- efficiency investments with good numbers fall through the cracks unless the project driver can articulate a solid story about why the project is important and profitable to the planet and the company, but most importantly, the department and individual decision-maker. Building that narrative turns out to be just as much about marketing as finance: it’s communicating a value proposition, and it demands that you get a very specific understanding of who you need to communicate with, exactly what should and can credibly communicate and how to most effectively communicate it.

When working with data centers in particular, there is not only a divide between the capital investment and the operating budgets and staff, but the guy in charge of the HVAC equipment often has needs, priorities and ideas that are different from the guy in charge of the IT equipment, and this gets further complicated when there are many data centers managed by different business units. Like many companies its size, Sony is working aggressively cut carbon emissions in anticipation of electricity rate increases and federal cap and trade legislation. Overcoming these organizational and internal marketing challenges are at the heart of turning those financially appealing efficiency investments into a reality.

This post originally ran on Perspective: Sustainability Blog from the Erb Institute, University of Michigan on December 7, 2009.


Developed by the Economist Intelligence Unit for Chevron, it invites players to develop efficient energy plans for where they live

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

ONE more TiME

Why are TV adverts so loud?

The Magazine's review of advertising
Television adverts often appear louder than the preceding programmes. Why does this happen and will a tightening of the law make any difference?

Even before the first advert begins, your hands are itching for the remote control for a pre-emptive strike.

Many a commercial break is preceded by a nervous anticipation for that irritating hike in the volume, especially if the kids are in bed or the walls are thin and the neighbours are sensitive.

After hundreds of complaints from viewers about this, the broadcasting watchdog has laid down the law.
“ I am concerned about the effect it is having on my neighbours ”
The Broadcast Committee of Advertising Practice (BCAP), the body responsible for writing the TV Advertising Code, has published a new rule on sound levels.

From 7 July, "advertisements must not be excessively noisy or strident.

"The maximum subjective loudness of advertisements must be consistent and in line with the maximum loudness of programmes and junction material."

This clarifies existing guidelines and encourages broadcasters to use a subjective loudness meter in order to ensure there is less of a perceived imbalance between ad and programme sound levels.

Drowning out

The Advertising Standards Authority received about 100 complaints about this in 2007 and hundreds in the two previous years.

One read: "The volume increases dramatically, to the extent that it becomes anti-social. I am concerned about the effect it is having on my neighbours."

Paradoxically, it's the hard of hearing who are most affronted by noisy ads. It's the biggest single concern among our members, says Emma Harrison, head of campaigns at the Royal National Institute of the Deaf (RNID).

People who are hard of hearing tend to lose the ability to detect high-pitched sounds, with the result that low-pitched sounds can swamp the sound of speech.

So when a loud advert (or a programme trailer - a source of complaints among the hard of hearing to the BBC) comes on unexpectedly, the low-pitched sounds in the commercial, usually the music, are amplified and distorted.

The RNID brought this to the attention of ITV boss Michael Grade, say Ms Harrison, and was told it was unintentional and due to the compressed audio files used in commercials.

“ They have the volume set and suddenly it's the ad break and the noise level is ratcheted up ”
Matt Wilson
A spokeswoman for ITV says this change in the quality of the audio means the adverts are not actually louder, although they may appear to be, and the broadcaster fully complies with industry regulations.

Matt Wilson of the Advertising Standards Authority, which will have to administer the rules, says any broadcaster which breaks them would first get a warning but persistent infringements would be passed to Ofcom, which has the power to levy fines or even revoke licences.

"This is a particular bugbear for consumers by volume - if you'll excuse the pun - of complaints we received about this. It became an issue that we had to put to the BCAP to address because they became acutely aware of the annoyance, which is counter-productive to successful adverts."

There has been a "steady flow" of complaints in recent years, he says - about 200 in 2005 and about 100 last year.

"It's not normally done en masse but individuals complaining about individual ad breaks. That's what spurred them to contact us. We never get 25 people complaining about one particular advert.

"What they say is they're having to reach for the remote and it's upsetting the neighbours. They have the volume set and suddenly it's the ad break and the noise level is ratcheted up."

Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2008/05/08 10:42:35 GMT

--and more noise pollution--

Move to ban loud TV adverts in US

The US House of Representatives has approved a bill which aims to limit the volume of television advertisements.

The Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation Act (CALM) was approved by a voice vote in the house.

Democrat Anna Eshoo, who filed the motion, said most Americans were willing to tolerate adverts but were annoyed by sudden volume increases.

She said broadcasting industry's current voluntary system had failed to deal with the issue.

The CALM bill means that within a year, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) must introduce guidelines proposed by the Advanced Television Systems Committee (ATSC) in November.

Under the rules, "excessively noisy or strident" advertisements would be banned, as would adverts which are noticeably louder - or have a "maximum loudness substantially higher" - than the programme they accompany.

The FCC would have another year before it had to start enforcing the standards.

Democrat representative Rick Boucher said loud advertising was "very frustrating" for viewers.

"It's an annoying experience, and something really should be done about it," the AFP news agency quoted him as saying.

Ms Eshoo said the legislation would force the industry to adhere to its own standards.

"Volunteerism hasn't worked for 50 years," the Associated Press news agency quoted her as saying.

The legislation needs to be approved by the Senate, which is considering an identical bill.
Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2009/12/15 22:57:18 GMT

Sunday, December 13, 2009

noise pollution counts, too!

Volume turned down on MP3 players

The European Commission is calling for a suggested maximum volume to be set on MP3 players, to protect users' hearing.

The commission wants all MP3 players sold in the EU, including iPods, to share the same volume limits.

This follows a report last year warning that up to 10m people in the EU face permanent hearing loss from listening to loud music for prolonged periods.

EU experts want the default maximum setting to be 85 decibels, according to BBC One's Politics Show.

Users would be able to override this setting to reach a top limit of 100 decibels.

In January, a two-month consultation of all EU standardisation bodies will begin on these proposals, with a final agreement expected in the spring.

Some personal players examined in testing facilities have been found to reach 120 decibels, the equivalent of a jet taking off, and no safety default level currently applies, although manufacturers are obliged to print information about risks in the instruction manuals.

Modern personal players are seen as more dangerous than stationary players or old-fashioned cassette or disk players because they can store hours of music and are often listened to while in traffic with the volume very high to drown out outside noise.

Dr Robin Yeoh, an audiology consultant at the Epsom and St Helier NHS Trust, said: "More and more young people are referred to me by their GPs with tinnitus or hearing loss as a direct result to exposure to loud music.

"It's the sort of damage that in the old days would have come from industrial noise.

"The damage is permanent and will often play havoc with their employment opportunities and their personal lives."

'Personal choice'

DigitalEurope, the Brussels-based body representing the industry, agrees safety must be improved.

But according to their spokesman Tony Graziano, "the solution must lie in a balance between safety and enjoyment of the product by the consumer".

"Eighty five decibels would not be appropriate because noise coming from traffic, engines and so on would obliterate the sound," he said.

Conservative MEP Martin Callanan, who sits on the European Parliament's Environment, Public Health and Food Safety Committee, said: "Kids have always listened to their music loud and this is not going to stop them."

He added: "You have to educate them to the risks but ultimately you have to allow personal responsibility and personal choice."

Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2009/12/13 09:45:36 GMT


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Saturday, December 12, 2009


Wednesday, December 9, 2009


Global consumer survey reveals that majority of old mobile phones are lying in drawers at home and not being recycled
July 08, 2008

Espoo, Finland - Only 3% of people recycle their mobile phones despite the fact that most have old devices lying around at home that they no longer want, according to a global consumer survey released by Nokia today. Three out of every four people added that they don't even think about recycling their devices and nearly half were unaware that it is even possible to do so.

The survey is based on interviews with 6,500 people in 13 countries including Finland, Germany, Italy, Russia, Sweden, UK, United Arab Emirates, USA, Nigeria, India, China, Indonesia and Brazil. It was conducted to help Nokia find out more about consumers' attitudes and behaviors towards recycling, and inform the company's take-back programs and efforts to increase recycling rates of unused mobile devices.

Markus Terho, Director of Environmental Affairs, Markets, at Nokia said, "It is clear from this survey that when mobile devices finally reach the end of their lives that very few of them are recycled. Many people are simply unaware that these old and unused mobiles lying around in drawers can be recycled or how to do this. Nokia is working hard to make it easier, providing more information and expanding our global take-back programs." He added, "If each of the three billion people globally owning mobiles brought back just one unused device we could save 240,000 tonnes of raw materials and reduce greenhouse gases to the same effect as taking 4 million cars off the road. By working together, small individual actions could add up to make a big difference."

The findings highlight that despite the fact that people on average have each owned around five phones, very few of these are being recycled once they are no longer used. Only 3% said they had recycled their old phone. Yet very few old devices, 4%, are being thrown into landfill. Instead the majority, 44%, are simply being kept at homes never used. Others are giving their mobiles another life in different ways, one quarter are passing on their old phones to friends or family, and 16% of people are selling their used devices particularly in emerging markets.

Globally, 74% of consumers said they don't think about recycling their phones, despite the fact that around the same number, 72%, think recycling makes a difference to the environment. This was consistent across many different countries with 88% of people in Indonesia not considering recycling unwanted devices, 84% in India, and 78% of people in Brazil, Sweden, Germany and Finland.

The survey revealed that one of the main reasons why so few people recycle their mobile phones is because they simply don't know that it is possible to do so. In fact, up to 80% of any Nokia device is recyclable and precious materials within it can be reused to help make new products such as kitchen kettles, park benches, dental fillings or even saxophones and other metal musical instruments. Globally, half of those surveyed didn't know phones could be recycled like this, with awareness lowest in India at 17% and Indonesia at 29%, and highest in the UK at 80% and 66% in Finland and Sweden.

Mr Terho said, "Using the best recycling technology nothing is wasted. Between 65 - 80 per cent of a Nokia device can be recycled. Plastics that can't be recycled are burnt to provide energy for the recycling process, and other materials are ground up into chips and used as construction materials or for building roads. In this way nothing has to go to landfill."

Many people interviewed for the survey, even if they were aware that a device could be recycled, did not know how to go about doing this. Two thirds said they did not know how to recycle an unwanted device and 71% were unaware of where to do this.

Nokia has collection points for unwanted mobile devices in 85 countries around the world, the largest voluntary scheme in the mobile industry. People can drop off their old devices at Nokia stores and almost 5,000 Nokia Care Centers. To find their nearest take back point people can visit

Responding to the survey findings Nokia is developing a series of campaigns and activities to give people more information on why, how and where to recycle their old and unwanted devices, chargers and mobile accessories. The company is also expanding its global take-back program by adding many more collection bins and promoting these in store to raise greater awareness.

About Nokia
Nokia is the world leader in mobility, driving the transformation and growth of the converging Internet and communications industries. We make a wide range of mobile devices with services and software that enable people to experience music, navigation, video, television, imaging, games, business mobility and more. Developing and growing our offering of consumer Internet services, as well as our enterprise solutions and software, is a key area of focus. We also provide equipment, solutions and services for communications networks through Nokia Siemens Networks.

Media Enquiries:


Uncovering India's e-waste hazard

By Dave Lee
BBC World Service

In Mustafa Bad, a remote part of east Delhi, a narrow street is home to tiny workshops filled with hard workers.

Inside, dozens of people, many of them children, spend tiring hours picking through the remains of old computers and mobile phones - hoping to find reusable parts to sell on for a tiny fee.

According to the United Nations, 20-50 million tonnes of electronic waste - or e-waste - is produced every year. A large amount of it goes to recycling plants like this.

“ I think manufacturers must own up this responsibility to deal with the kind of products they bring into the market. ”
Satish Sinha

"This is our livelihood," says, Mohammad, one of the workers.

"For this one computer piece that we've opened up and dismantled, that's five rupees. Yes, we only get five or ten rupees for each one."

It's very dangerous work. For little more than $3 (US) per day, these people are subjecting themselves to constant cuts and scrapes - and exposure to toxic chemicals.

"I personally have met people who have very visual impact on their body," says Satish Sinha, from India-based NGO, Toxics Link.

"Broken skin on the fingers, cut marks, abrasions, eyes are watering, complaining of headaches."

"They work long hours. They work in small, cramped rooms, squatting on the floor. They're sitting in one position."

Without these workers, however, much of the world's e-waste would go un-recycled.

"But is this the right way of doing it?" asks Mr Sinha.

"I think manufacturers must own up this responsibility to deal with the kind of products they bring into the market."

Take Back

Nokia is a manufacturer trying to do just that. Through their new scheme, Take Back, they have encouraged India's mobile users to return their old mobiles to the store so it can be recycled.

"We managed to get more than three tonnes of material back from consumers," said Ambrish Bakaya, director of corporate affairs at Nokia India.

"Out of these there were about ten thousand phones and 68 thousand pieces of other equipment.

"For each of the phones which were returned, we actually ended up planting a tree, and we've planted a little more than ten thousand trees already as part of this particular campaign."

Such schemes may be a step in the right direction, but according to a recent study by consulting firm Deloitte, it's merely a drop in the ocean: mobile phone waste is estimated to be growing by 9% every year.

Free upgrade!

While companies like Nokia are running schemes to reduce the environmental impact of their products, some say the sheer number of new models is to blame for the consumer's desire to upgrade to new models at every opportunity.

Mr Bakaya says Nokia is just keeping up.

"You had single-band phones, then dual-band phones and now tri-band phones because as technology advances the ability for your phone to do much more increases exponentially."

# It is broadcast on Tuesday at 1232GMT and repeated at 1632GMT, 2032GMT and on Wednesday at 0032GMT
# It is also available as a

He maintains that while many users change their model often, the old phones still have years of life left in them.

"The phones are built to last. There will be somebody who will then find the phone acceptable to use a couple of years later.

"In India, our assessment is that a phone will continue to be used, either by a second person or a third person, for at least six years."

This poses a dilemma for techies the world over, says Mr Sinha from Toxics Link. If the e-waste mountain is ever to shrink, then a choice has to be made between technological progress or natural resources.

"We're talking about sustainable development.

"How much can we consume, how much can we throw?

"The complete life-cycle of a product must be assessed at the drawing board when we come out with products."
Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2009/11/25 15:36:25 GMT


Cell phone waste, the next big threat to environment: Deloitte
1 Nov 2009, 1129 hrs IST, PTI
NEW DELHI: Sporting a new mobile phone may be fashionable in these well-connected times, but the discarded old handsets could poison the
environment, as a whopping 8,000 tonnes of cell phone waste is estimated to burden the earth by 2012.

As per a whitepaper by global consultancy Deloitte, there is a growing need to better manage the rising cell phone waste, as it is posing a threat to the environment.

Replacement sales predict that more cell phones would be retired every year with rapid changes in technology and product designs discouraging mobile repairs and increasing demand for new mobiles and disposal of old ones.

"With the absence of a proper recycle and reuse program, about 8,000 tonnes of toxic cell phone components are estimated to be dumped in landfills by 2012. The resulting contamination will have far reaching consequences for the environment and all living beings," Deloitte Consulting India Regional Managing Director Parag Saigaonkar told PTI.

The problem begins when retired handsets end up in landfill sites or if they are dumped illegally, leading to toxic substances seeping into the groundwater, making disposal of old cells a problem for the world, the report revealed.

"As India is one of the fastest growing markets in the world in terms of mobile phone subscribers, we need to be more aware of the threat, which these gadgets pose to the environment and strict government guidelines should be created to deal with it," Saigaonkar added.


Printed from
Nokia India announces ‘Take Back’
31 Dec, 2008, 1358 hrs IST, Indiatimes Infotech

SMS NEWS to 58888 for latest updates

NEW DELHI: Nokia India has said that it will launch its 'take-back' campaign from January 1. The take-back campaign is aimed at educating mobile
phone users on the importance of recycling e-waste and will be rolled out in phases across the country.

As a part of this initiative, Nokia encourage mobile phone users to dispose their used handsets and accessories such as charges and handsets, regardless of the brand, at any of the recycling bins set up across Nokia Priority Dealers and Nokia Care Centers.

A Nokia survey across 13 countries has showed that only a mere 17 per cent of the cellular users in India were aware that the handset could be recycled. The awareness quotient was the lowest in India. "The company will be planting a tree for every handset dropped into these recycling bins and giving out a surprise gift as well," Nokia said in a statement.

The highlight of the survey was that despite the fact that people on an average each owned around five phones; very few of these were being recycled once they are no longer used. Only 3 per cent said they had recycled their old phone.

Instead the majority, 44 per cent, are simply being kept at homes and never used. Others are giving their mobiles another life in different ways, passing on their old phones to friends or family or by selling their used devices.

Globally, half of those surveyed didn't know phones could be recycled like this, with awareness lowest in India at 17 per cent and Indonesia at 29 per cent, and highest in the UK at 80 per cent and 66 per cent in Finland and Sweden.

"The take-back campaign aims to increase awareness of the concept of recycling. If people no longer need their mobile devices, they can bring it back to Nokia for recycling and it can put it to good use - 100 percent of the materials in the phones can be recovered and used to make new products or generate energy," the company statement added.

According to Nokia India's VP and managing director D Shivakumar, the campaign offered the company an unique opportunity to make an impact that goes beyond its own business. "Our vision is a world where everyone being connected can contribute to sustainable development. As responsible leaders, we want to drive best practices in our industry. Achieving environmental leadership means minimising our own environmental footprint and encouraging recycling is a step in this direction," he added.
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Nokia India has said that it will launch its 'take-back' campaign from January 1, aimed at educating mobile phone users on the importance of recycling e-waste and will be rolled out in phases across the country.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009


Battery made of paper charges up

Batteries made from plain copier paper could make for future energy storage that is truly paper thin.

The approach relies on the use of carbon nanotubes - tiny cylinders of carbon - to collect electric charge.

While small-scale nanotube batteries have been demonstrated before, the plain paper approach lends itself to making larger devices more cheaply.

The work, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, could lead to "paintable" energy storage.

Because of its structure of millions of tiny, interconnected fibres, paper is a good candidate to hold on to carbon nanotubes, providing a scaffold on which to build devices.

However, paper is also mechanically tough, and can be bent, curled or folded, more than the metal or plastic surfaces that are currently used or under development.

Good on paper

A team of researchers at Stanford University started with off-the-shelf copier paper, painting it with an "ink" made of carbon nanotubes.

The coated paper is then dipped in lithium-containing solutions and an electrolyte to provide the chemical reaction that generates a battery's electric current.

The paper acts to collect the electric charge from the reaction. Using paper in this way could reduce the weight of batteries, typically made with metal current collectors, by 20%.

The team's batteries are also capable of releasing their stored energy quickly. That is a valuable characteristic for applications that need quick bursts of energy, such as electric vehicles - although the team has no immediate plans to develop vehicle batteries.

Liangbing Hu, lead author on the research, said the most important aspect of the demonstration was that paper is an inexpensive and well-understood material - making wider usage of the technology more likely.

"Standard copier paper used in our everyday life can be a solution in storing energy in a more efficient and cheap way," Dr Hu told BBC News.

"The experienced technology developed in the paper industry over a century can be transferred to improve the process and performance of these paper-based devices."

The team says that adaptations to the technique in the future could allow for simply painting the nanotube ink and active materials onto surfaces such as walls.

They have even experimented with a number of textiles, paving the way for batteries made largely of cloth.
Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2009/12/08 16:38:52 GMT

Wednesday, December 2, 2009


Ailing economy, new state regulations complicate e-waste recycling
By Steve Tarter
of the Journal Star
Posted Dec 01, 2009 @ 12:10 AM

Ian Farquharson doesn't need your computer monitor. The manager of Illinois E-Waste Recycling & Reuse, 1413 NE Adams St., calls them a headache.

"They're basically worth nothing," said Farquharson, sitting amid a small office littered with old computers and spare parts.

But the 38-year-old Peorian still takes monitors and other computer parts, even though he's not sure of the next time he'll hold a recycling event when people can drop off equipment at his place.

"There's no money in (electronic recycling) right now," he said.

As more electronics become gifts this holiday season, more old electronics will be recycled or tossed out. New state regulations taking effect in January will affect both ends of that spectrum.

But recycling has been fraught with problems before now.

Electronics recycler Recycling For Illinois Inc. recently shut down operations, only about a year after moving from Peoria to Pekin.

An ailing economy that saw a drop in prices paid for metals sold by recyclers doomed the operation, said RFI operations manager Paul Hauptly.

But RFI had other problems before the recession hit. RFI was forced to leave its previous location on Peoria's Rock Island Avenue when the not-for-profit ran afoul of zoning regulations.

Peorian Rand Kuhlman, who helped the recyling operation as a volunteer, said other problems at RFI included shrinkage and breakage of the inventory of electronic items that were collected.

"When RFI moved to the 20,000-square-foot warehouse in Pekin in 2008, twice the size of its warehouse in Peoria, I remember one of the managers saying that it would be five years before they filled all the space. It took less than a year for them to fill the place," said Kuhlman.

When electronic waste started piling up in front of the Pekin location, authorities closed the operation in October.

Farquharson has had his own storage problems. When it comes to e-waste, there's never enough room, he said. "It takes 1,500 computer monitors to fill a semi. I have a guy in Texas who will pay $5 apiece but I have to pay the freight. In the meantime, you pay to keep them in a warehouse," he said.

On the computer side, Farquharson said multiple buyers exist for used parts but labor is the problem, said Farquharson. "For me to hire a full-time person (with the knowledge to disassemble computers) is an impossibility," he said.

The new state regulations on electronic recycling that go into effect in January directly affect Farquharson. A fee of $2,000 will be required in 2010 to be recognized in Illinois as an electronics recycler, an assessment likely to drive out the little guy, he said.

Beginning in January, Farquharson said he will be classified simply as a collector of electronic equipment.

"I'll be able to dismantle computers but I won't be able to take TV sets or printers apart," he said of the new regulations.

"I'm not a public store," said Farquharson, pointing to the electronic equipment surrounding him in the office. "I can be open for the public or I can recycle (selling electronics to recycling companies). I can do one or the other. You can't do both or you get the RFI disaster," he said.

Driving concern over where electronics wind up is a concern for the environment, Karen Raithel, recycling director for Peoria County.

E-waste can contain hazardous substances, such as lead, mercury and arsenic, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. To keep toxic material out of Illinois landfills, the state passed the Electronic Products Recycling & Reuse Act in 2008, she said.

The state is banking on "product responsibility" to handle the e-waste problem, said Raithel. That means a company that sells electronic products like TVs and computers in the state will have to recycle a certain amount of used equipment based on sales.

"Now residents have the opportunity to go somewhere to recycle that TV or computer. We really don't want that in a landfill," said Raithel.

But the new state law won't prevent Peoria homeowners from putting that old TV set or computer out in the alley for collection as garbage until 2012 - when state law forbids electronic equipment in landfills.

E-waste policies at Peoria Disposal Co., the firm that will take over garbage collection in the city of Peoria starting in January, "will evolve as we go," said municipal marketing manager Joe Roberts.

PDC has had discussions with city and county officials about staging special e-waste collection days but nothing has been set up so far, he said.

Area outlets that recycle electronic items include stores such as Office Depot, Best Buy and American Furniture and TV as well as Goodwill Industries, which partnered with the Dell computer firm to recycle used computer equipment.

"The state of Illinois thought it did a great thing by making manufacturers responsible for e-waste but nobody in the Peoria area has any agreements with manufacturers," said Farquharson, referring to private recyclers.

Raithel said the county has spoken with AT Recycling, a private recycler in Pontiac, about possible collaboration in the future.

Kiersten Sheets of the Heart of Illinois Sierra Club said people need to realize what is classified as e-waste. "It's anything with a cord or that runs off a battery. Many people think of e-waste only as computers or printers. They tend not to think of their cordless shaver or alarm clock," she said.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009