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Study Focus on Environmental Hazards Posed by IT Scraps

t solder. The alloy is primarily used on the picture tube in monitors. In the past, monitors were simply put into landfills, leading to a situation in Habel's words where "40 percent of the lead contamination in landfills originates from old monitors."

Measured in terms of weight, 65 percent of each computer is brought back into the recycling chain. Yet one must also remember that the metal casing makes up most of a PC's weight. The recycling rate for metals in the electronic scrap pile amounts to more than 95 percent. Roughly 10 percent of the weight is used energetically, meaning that the material is burned.

Many manufacturers are seeking to lure customers with promises of computers produced in more environmentally friendly ways. Fujitsu-Siemens is offering a "Green PC," for example: "We've calculated that we require roughly 25 fewer sacks of coal to produce it than are needed for a traditional device," says marketing director Jorg Hartmann.

What can consumers do? Labels that stand for environmental friendliness also exist for PCs - perhaps too many, Hojsik finds: "I'm sceptical about how much these labels mean."

It's instead better to ask about a computer's production, consumption and disposal procedures before buying it in the first place, he says. Because computers grow out of date quickly, it makes sense to look for machines that can be upgraded.

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