The complexities of monitoring compliance with e-waste disposal regulations were illustrated last year in differing assessments from two different Federal agencies (GAO & EPA). The viewpoints are informative, but the bottom line is that responsible enterprises should complement government efforts by taking a careful look at exactly what their e-waste contractors are doing with the gear. The EPA provides information about what to expect from a good e-waste recycler.
We're seeing a number of media facilities, an important part of ICT, pursuing LEED® (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification, including Plymouth Rock Studios, Second Line Stages, and The Weather Channel.
Earth Hour is an initiative sponsored by the World Wildlife Fund and others to raise awareness about global warming by asking individuals, municipalities, and businesses to turn off their lights for one hour (8:30PM local time, 28 Mar). Turning off our personal computers and e-devices appears to be a more complicated issue.
ICT facilities and event organizers alike can follow the lead of media industry organization Give A Glass. This is a "network of advertising agencies, production and post-production companies making a difference in our community and the world" whose members have declared that they "will no longer purchase individual, single-use plastic water bottles in the office from now on or on a specific shoot." ICT techies can apply this to those 'energy' drink bottles, too.
The transition to digital television (DTV) will likely generate hundreds of tons of e-waste in the form of stations' old analog transmission equipment. Disposal of this equipment was never accounted for in industry or government DTV planning. Most of the equipment is towards the end of life-cycle and pending DTV transitions in Mexico and Canada are drying up what remains of the North American resale market.
Vertatique raised the issue back in 2007 of increased home energy consumption and carbon emissions due to widespread deployment of digital-to-analog (DTA) converter boxes in 2009. Energy Star reports that "In the U.S. alone, depending on viewer behavior and product design, EPA estimates that conventional DTAs could consume more than 3 billion kilowatt hours (kWh) per year and cost Americans $270 million annually in additional electricity bills." New DTA models hold hope for improving the situation.
EU regulators continue to exempt medical devices from sustainable technology standards like RoHS and WEEE. 2012 now looks like the earliest the exemption will be lifted. But pressure on device manufacturers to address these issues is mounting through specific focus by associations like
The appointment of Steven Chu as U.S. Secretary of Energy holds special significance for for the green computing community. Cho is the former head of Lawerence Berkley National Labs. Under his leadership, LBNL became a leader in energy-efficient computing. A seminal 2007 report elevated worldwide awareness and was the basis for one of the first Vertatique posts.
Readers who have followed Vertatique since 2007 know that I find the photographs of and film about Edward Burtynsky make compelling arguments for getting a handle on our e-waste/cyberwaste stream. I was reminded of this by the reaction his story and work always receive when I talk about Green ICT.
The European Community has not exempted broadcast from its environmental regulations for electrical and electronic equipment like it has biomedical. Click here to learn about which media product vendors working to comply.