Select your localized edition:

Close ×

More Ways to Connect

Discover one of our 28 local entrepreneurial communities »

Be the first to know as we launch in new countries and markets around the globe.

Interested in bringing MIT Technology Review to your local market?

MIT Technology ReviewMIT Technology Review - logo


Unsupported browser: Your browser does not meet modern web standards. See how it scores »

{ action.text }

Discarded computers and other electronics are the fastest growing portion of the U.S. waste stream. By some estimates, there are between 300 million and 500 million obsolete computers in the United States, plus hundreds of millions of televisions. And between 20 million and 24 million computers and televisions are added to storage each year.

Two states–Maine and Washington–have already enacted laws requiring manufacturers to take back their electronics. In Maine, such take backs are limited to computer monitors, televisions, and laptops; Washington’s law also includes CPUs. Other states have bills in the pipeline. Many computer companies, including Dell and Hewlett Packard, already support producer take-back policies. Others, including Samsung, Sony, and LG, support such efforts abroad but not in the United States, where no federal law requires take backs, says Schneider.

But despite such corporate programs and state laws, the larger story in the United States is a lack of regulation, meaning many electronics still get thrown out with the regular garbage. “Most computers are in storage in people’s homes and offices, and that is probably the best thing in the short term, because in most states, it’s still perfectly legal to throw them in the trash,” says Schneider.

5 comments. Share your thoughts »

Credit: Basel Action Network, December 2001

Tagged: Computing, China, hardware, India, toxicity, iPod

Reprints and Permissions | Send feedback to the editor

From the Archives


Introducing MIT Technology Review Insider.

Already a Magazine subscriber?

You're automatically an Insider. It's easy to activate or upgrade your account.

Activate Your Account

Become an Insider

It's the new way to subscribe. Get even more of the tech news, research, and discoveries you crave.

Sign Up

Learn More

Find out why MIT Technology Review Insider is for you and explore your options.

Show Me