Just how environment-friendly are those computers that tout power-saving features and a lead-free status? Is buying a computer from companies that offer recycling programs better than buying computer hardware from companies that do not?
Computer components and other consumer electronics can contain considerable amounts of brominated flame retardants (BFRs) and other harmful chemicals. Computer hardware producers make use of toxins, carcinogens and oil-based paints in their manufacturing process. These toxic substances cannot be completely wiped off from the end-products.
Consumers can bring home tainted computer hardware and expose themselves to these toxins and carcinogens. People with hypersensitivity issues and those with suppressed immune systems can become sick within minutes of sitting next to a computer.
The recycling programs offered by some computer manufacturers, notable Dell, Hewlett-Packard and Lenovo, unfortunately do not reverse the health effects of toxin exposure. They are only good in getting rid your old computer components in a safe manner.
This does not mean that EPEAT ratings are useless. They can be very good indicators of how less dangerous one computer can be compared to another unit. The EPEAT or the Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool was created by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Greener Electronics Council to recognize computers with fewer health hazards.
The EPEAT uses many criteria to review computers and award them the coveted EPEAT badge. Some of these criteria include toxin content, energy efficiency and the recyclable nature of computer components. A computer’s longevity and membership in a recycling program will also garner a higher rating. Depending on the number of criteria that a computer unit complies with, they are awarded a bronze, silver or, best of all, a gold rating by the EPEAT.
So correct the thought that green computers do not contribute to environmental pollution. They still do, albeit at lower amounts than other computer hardware that are simply built with profits and sales in mind.