Technology and the Environment

Essay by rdauffenbachCollege, UndergraduateA+, March 2004

download word file, 3 pages 4.6

With the development of Computers and information technology came talk of a new environmentally friendly era. The need to create and store documents on paper would be gone, along with the need to travel from city to city to conduct business meetings. The developers of computers sold Government Originations and Corporate America on these cost saving concepts. The promises made by computer developers proved to be somewhat true, especially given the wide spread deployment and use of Internet and email. Although computers have succeeded in reducing paper consumption, time, and fuel wasted while traveling they have managed to create some other waste management disasters.

E-Waste is a new phrase that has been coined in the last few years. The term refers to the massive amounts of electronic waste that is being generated by ageing computer equipment being sent to disposal facilities and landfills each year. According to the National Safety Council, more than 150 million used PCs are sitting idle in storage in the United States with an additional 315 million computers that will need to be recycled or scrapped in 2004.

The manufacturing of computers has transformed life in the second half of the 20th century. This also leads to rapid product obsolescence and lack of focus on environmental and social impacts of expanding production. The average computer platform now has a life span of about two years; hardware and software companies constantly generate new programs that demand more speed, memory and power. It is usually cheaper and more convenient to buy a new machine for the newer software than it is to upgrade the old machines.

Disposing of e-waste in a landfill may seem harmless but in reality it is very dangerous to water supplies, plant life and humans in the surrounding areas. Electronic computer equipment is...