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 user 2007-07-23 at 2:36:00 pm Views: 44
  • #18439

    HP mines for gold in toxic trash
    a vast warehouse in a scorching valley near California’s capital,
    Hewlett-Packard workers mine for internet-age gold while diverting
    toxic electronic waste from landfills.The company is beefing up
    operations in the sleepy California town of Roseville, where its
    shredders and chippers rip up everything from mobile telephones to copy
    machines and salvage usable scraps.Yellowed newspaper clippings about
    e-waste dump sites in rural China are tacked to walls of a workshop
    where HP’s goal is to keep discarded technological devices and their
    toxic components out of the ground.”It’s a lot like old-fashioned gold
    mining,” HP employee Tatyana Kjellberg said.A football field-sized
    loading dock is stacked high with computer monitors, printers and
    servers collected in just one day.

    Those discards of
    internet-age life await deconstruction as conveyor belts, rotating
    blades and magnets crush and sift endless streams of junk flowing into
    huge plastic bins bound for a smelter. HP calls the process product
    minimisation. Computer components arrive on the dock and are dismantled
    by hand.ThE pieces are sent through a series of machines that break
    them down until all that remains are mounds of plastic, steel and
    aluminium in small chunks.The US computer maker is revving up a
    recycling effort it began with a parts return program in 1987.”We’d
    take the usable parts out of products and send them on for reuse, but
    then we were left with all these carcasses,” HP recycling operations
    manager Ken Turner said. “There was plenty of stuff we just didn’t know
    what to do with.”

    The company will accept any electronic device
    made by any manufacturer. The collection of vintage technology includes
    a Sony Mega Watchman, a mobile phone the size of an orthopedic shoe,
    and an early Commodore personal computer.An obsolete IBM ThinkPad
    bearing a sticker “Roberto’s T30″ awaits reincarnation at the top of a
    heap of abandoned machines. Last year, HP globally recycled 74 million
    kilograms of e-waste, a mass equivalent to 600 jumbo jets. The
    Roseville plant alone accounts for almost 2 million kilograms every
    month.”Our recycling program is light years ahead of most companies,”
    Mr Turner said. “But we also sell a lot more machines than other

    HP began in 1938 as a garage workshop in what is now
    Silicon Valley. The company grew into a behemoth selling a vast range
    of electronic devices worldwide. It reported almost $US92 billion in
    revenue last year.As technology increasingly pervades cultures
    worldwide, and product lifecycles shorten, there is a growing need for
    intensive e-cycling operations, according to environmental
    groups.Microsoft’s launch of its new Windows Vista operating system in
    January is expected to trigger a flood of e-waste worldwide as people
    upgrade to more advanced machines. The bulk of the technology trash
    lands in developing nations such as China, according to Greenpeace.