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Slowing Introductions of New Electronic Products Reduces E-Waste

Oct 20, 2009, 20:02 (0 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Alice LaPlante)


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"What happens to the discarded electronics, which represent one million tons of electronic waste (e-waste) annually? Many are shipped to developing countries and illegally processed to recover precious metals, using processes that dangerously pollute the air and water with lead, dioxins, and other toxins. Recent work by Erica Plambeck, Professor of Operations, Information, and Technology at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, and Qiong Wang of Alcatel-Lucent Bell Laboratories, points to a solution — one that slows down the rate of new product introductions. This, in turn, reduces the speed with which consumers replace the electronics they’ve purchased, and decreases the mountains of e-waste accumulating around the planet.

"Numerous governments already regulate e-waste disposal. California, for example, charges consumers recycling fees when they purchase new electronic products. Certain members of the European Union put responsibility for e-waste squarely in manufacturers' hands by requiring them to collect and dispose of their products at the end of the product life cycle. Plambeck and Wang show that, when properly implemented, such regulations can significantly reduce the amount of e-waste produced each year."

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