Industrialized Nebraskans for Organized Recycling Management
January 2000

Report Card: Some PC’s Byte the Dust

SAN JOSE, California, December 21, 1999 (ENS) - Shoppers buying a computer as a gift or for themselves this season, might keep in mind that chances are good it will be discarded as obsolete within two years. Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition today issued end-of-year report cards to help computer buyers make the greenest possible selections.

The report card grades are based on responses to questionnaires and analysis of company websites.

Two companies - Apple and IBM - received green candy canes from the Coalition, earning four out of a possible five points for green policies on hazardous material use, product upgradability and take-back practices for computers. Nine companies - earned nothing but lumps of coal on the Coalition

report card. Three of the nine companies on the low end of the spectrum earned zero green points - AST, Acer and Daewoo.

More than half of U.S. households own a computer, and the average life span of a computer is falling to about two years, the Coalition says. Last year over 12 million computers were obsolete, and within four years over 315 million computers in the United States will become obsolete.

Some computer scrap goes into landfills. But the majority, three-quarters of all computers ever bought in the U.S., are sitting in people’s homes, basements, attics or cupboards because consumers do not know what to do with them, says Ted Smith, executive director of the Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition and coordinator of the International Campaign for Responsible Technology.

"We are faced with a growing waste problem - computer junk," says Leslie Byster, program director of the Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition. "If everyone threw them out at once, we would have a one mile high waste mountain of junked computers the size of a football field. There is a clear lack of information given to North American consumers about our recycling or disposal options for our obsolete computers."

The Coalition sent surveys to 21 major computer producers to determine if some producers were more accountable than others regarding the types of materials used in their products and their attitudes towards waste management of their products.

The companies were asked to respond to multiple choice questions within three weeks. The questions canvassed policies on:

hazardous material use and phase out

whether or not the firms take back components or products from their customers

the use of recycled materials in new products

disposal practices including the export of scrap overseas

corporations' views of their responsibility for their obsolete products.

Only one corporation, Unisys, responded by filling in the questionnaire. Another corporation, IBM, responded by sending its "1999 Environment & Well-Being Report." All other corporations did not respond. Extensive follow up phone calls a month after the initial mailing achieved "insignificant information and response," Smith and Byster say.

Then the researchers undertook a survey of each website looking for the same information. The results are summarized as a report card which grades the 21 companies with scores from a high of 5 to a low of zero. No company scored 5.

"Apple has an extensive website on its environmental policy and gives the best consumer information on materials used in each computer model," the Coalition says.

Apple gives information about environmental policy and management, product design, batteries, energy consumption, noise characteristics, emissions, electrical safety, ergonomics, packaging, and recycling.

The product design category encompasses detailed information about hazardous heavy metals, brominated flame retardants, ozone depleting substances and dioxin generating materials. Apple's Design for Environment program aims to improve on recyclability of materials, the elimination of banned, restricted, toxic or hazardous constituents and the improvement of material and energy conservation. Extensive information on upgrades is included for each model.

Apple takes back batteries and toner cartridges but has no system in place for its products. It advises consumers to donate them or contact their local authority for information about electronic waste disposal options.

IBM's website, under Healthy Computing, details the firm's take-back operations beginning with Switzerland in 1989, South Africa in 1992, eight more European, Middle Eastern and African countries in 1993 and "selected customers" in the USA in 1997. To better coordinate and manage product end of life activities, IBM established a new Global Asset Recovery Services organization to provide a global focus for the development of remanufacturing, refurbishment and demanufacturing.

IBM’s Design for Environment research arm has formulated a lead-free solder for use in circuit board manufacturing and is investigating the use of renewable natural polymers to replace fossil-fuel based resins.

In the middle of the pack, earning three points each are Compaq/Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) and Hewlett Packard.

In the two point range are: Fujitsu, Toshiba, Gateway, Dell, Sony USA, Sharp and Unisys. Unisys, the only company to send in the questionnaire, operates a take-back service for its major customers, and end of life products are sent to two recovery plants.

Earning lumps of coal with one point are: Matsushita/Panasonic, Packard-Bell/NEC, Samsung, NCR and Hitachi.

Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition is a 17 year-old community organization which defines itself as “committed to exposing the environmental and health impacts of the high-tech electronics industry and working for sustainability, accountability and cleaner production in the high-tech industry."

Taken in part from

INFORM to Meet at UNL East Campus

The University of Nebraska will host this month’s INFORM meeting. Firststar Fiber will have representatives present to discuss their new location, processing and the status of their proposed paper mill.

We will meet Friday, January 14th at the UNL East Campus Union at 9 AM. Parking is available at the Nebraska Center for Continuing Education at 33rd and Holdrege.

This is an opportunity for recycling professionals to share information, network and troubleshoot new projects. We hope to see some new faces at this and upcoming INFORM events. See you there!

Recycling Saves Businesses $ and Resources

Keo Office Furniture and the SouthPointe Pavilions received assistance from WasteCap of Lincoln last fall to implement cardboard recycling programs that will divert cardboard from the landfill and save the businesses money in landfill disposal fees. WasteCap of Lincoln is a program of the Lincoln Chamber of Commerce that provides free technical assistance to Lincoln area businesses interested in waste reduction and recycling opportunities.

John Radway, President of Keo Office Furniture heard about WasteCap at a Chamber Small Business Network meeting. Keo Office Furniture was starting two large office installation projects early last fall and was interested in recycling the cardboard packaging from the furniture and office equipment that would be placed at the new Hall of the Justice and for the State of Nebraska Health and Human Services offices. Mr. Radway contacted WasteCap Director, Carrie Hakenkamp for assistance on these projects.

Ms. Hakenkamp helped Keo Office Furniture to find a hauler that wouldplace a container for cardboard collection at their project sites and a second provider to place a cardboard recycling container at their warehouse for daily use. Keo Office Furniture used Gomez Rolloff and Refuse to service their project sites and uses Midland Recycling for servicing their warehouse container. As of result of the recycling program, Keo Office Furniture successfully diverted nearly three tons of cardboard from the landfill between September and December 1999. According to John Radway, “In addition to the landfill and environmental savings, Keo Office Furniture has seen the advantage of a cost savings in man-hours [to transport the cardboard off-site] and a gain in the payment from the materials.”

WasteCap of Lincoln also provided services to the newest mall in Lincoln, SouthPointe Pavilions located at 27th and Pine Lake Road. Ms. Hakenkamp contact Robin Eschliman with FMA Realty, which manages the Kansas City-owned SouthPointe Pavilions, to discuss cardboard recycling possibilities. Following an on-site visit of the mall, WasteCap contacted Gordon Petrie with Midwest Refuse, SouthPointe’s garbage hauler and arranged for an additional container to be placed at the mall for garbage collection and to have the compactor on-site dedicated for cardboard recycling. WasteCap of Lincoln is also providing assistance to SouthPointe by contacting each tenant by mail to explain the program and to be available for questions or concerns. The recycling program, which began in early November, is currently diverting about one ton of cardboard per week from the landfill. This volume represents cost-savings of at least $17.00 per week in landfill disposal fees.

These success stories represent the environmental dedication of Lincoln businesses and their desire to enhance our local environment and save money through waste reduction and recycling. For more information on how your business can save money through waste reduction activities or to schedule a free, confidential on-site waste assessment of your business please contact the WasteCap of Lincoln office at 472-0888

Market Corner

Steady markets appear to be the rule as the year comes to an end. Paper companies continue to report confident outlooks for the year 2000. At the same time, some of the concerns being expressed about a drop-off in demand earlier this fall have dissipated.

Old corrugated, one of the bigger concerns moving into next year, seems to be holding its own. Other grades, notably mixed paper and old news, are starting to solidify.

White ledger grades also should hold up fairly strongly, at least during the first several months of this year.

All in all, the first half of the year 2000 could continue the strong growth seen with paper stock markets first realized in the middle of last year.

WasteCap will ensure that INFORM members stay abreast of market developments throughout the year in our Markets Corner section of the newsletters.

(article taken in part from Firbre Market News, vol 62, no. 24, Dec. 17, 1999).

Clean Your Files Day 2000

In April 1999, the US Conference of Mayors held its third national “Clean Your Files Day” campaign to raise awareness about paper recycling.

The City of Lincoln will participate this coming year, and we invite your organization to join others across the country in this Earth Day activity scheduled for Earth Week April 16-22, 2000. This simple and easy-to-implement project generates increased amounts of paper for recycling, provides an opportunity to reinforce positive behaviors, and educates employees about office paper recycling programs.

The City is sending Clean Your Files information to its individual departments so that they may schedule one day out of Earth Week to participate. Clean Your Files Day will be a casual dress work day, and extra containers for recyclables will be provided. As well as the casual dress motive, specific incentives for the “cleanest” department will also serve to motivate workers to participate in this Earth Day Event.

This April 22, 2000, Antelope Park will be the location of the 30th Anniversary Earth Day Activities. The opening ceremony will begin at 10 AM and the event will continue through 2:30 PM. Vendor booths and green displays from WasteCap and the City of Lincoln, in addition to speakers on topics such as sustainable development are featured at the Earth Day festival. The city expects 3-5 thousand to attend, given good weather.

WasteCap strongly encourages INFORM members to celebrate the 30th Earth Day. For more information on how you can participate contact Carrie Hakenkamp at 472-0888.

Volume Surveys Requested for 1999

The Annual Volume Surveys are out! All INFORM members should have received a recycling volume survey at the beginning of this year. The requests are due January 28, 2000.

Annual numbers are necessary to accurately calculate the volume of material diverted from the landfill by the INFORM coalition. WasteCap will use the individual’s numbers to create a profile of the services provided for our members. We will also draft a cost savings sheet to accompany our service profiles.

Thus far the return rate has been good, but there are some members who have not yet responded. Please do your best to complete the survey accurately, but do keep in mind that a informed estimate is of more use to us than no information at all.

The total composite volume will be included in the WasteCap Annual Report scheduled for release early this year. Thank you for your participation in recycling and for your timely response to our volume requests. If you have any questions about the survey, please contact Carrie Hakenkamp at 472-0888.

Internet Store for Environmental Professionals Inc. (formerly NetSources International, Inc.) announced today the launch of its new "eStore" - an Internet store for environmental professionals, at

The eStore provides trusted brands, wholesale prices, and convenient ordering for products used by environmental professionals involved in investigation, remediation, emergency response, and industrial management for environmental media of air, water, waste, toxics, and personal health & safety.

"The eStore is a natural extension of our search engine, used by thousands of visitors each month. Both have been firsts in the environmental industry", said Jeff Thielen, President of "We've applied our extensive knowledge and experience in the industry to provide products our customers need at wholesale prices, and our low prices reflect our low overhead as a virtual 'Internet economy' distributor."

The search engine (formerly called EnviroSource) has been serving the information needs of environmental professionals since 1996. Recent upgrades include faster searching and more content.


Food For Thought

We tried so hard to make things better for our kids that we made them worse. For my grandchildren, I'd like better.

I'd really like for them to know about hand-me down clothes and homemade ice cream and leftover meatloaf sandwiches. I really would. I hope you learn humility by being humiliated, and that you learn honesty by being cheated. I hope you learn to make your bed and mow the lawn and wash the car. And I really hope nobody gives you a brand new car when you are sixteen. It will be good if at least one time you can see puppies born and your old dog put to sleep. I hope you get a black eye fighting for something you believe in. I hope you have to share a bedroom with your younger brother. And it's all right if you have to draw a line down the middle of the room, but when he wants to crawl under the covers with you because he's scared, I hope you let him. When you want to see a movie and your little brother wants to tag along, I hope you'll let him. I hope you have to walk uphill to school with your friends and that you live in a town where you can do it safely. On rainy days when you have to catch a ride, I hope you don't ask your 'driver' to drop you two blocks away so you won't be seen riding with someone as uncool as your Mom. If you want a slingshot, I hope your Dad teaches you how to make one instead of buying one. I hope you learn to dig in the dirt and read books. When you learn to use computers, I hope you also learn to add and subtract in your head. I hope you get teased by your friends when you have your first crush on a girl, and when you talk back to your mother that you learn what Ivory soap tastes like. May you skin your knee climbing a mountain, burn your hand on a stove and stick your tongue on a frozen flagpole. I don't care if you try a beer once, but I hope you don't like it. And If a friend offers you dope or a joint, I hope you realize he is not your friend. I sure hope you make time to sit on a porch with your Grandpa and go fishing with your Uncle. May you feel sorrow at a funeral and joy during the holidays. I hope your Mother punishes you when you throw a baseball through a neighbor's window and that she hugs you and kisses you at Christmas time when you give her a plaster mold of your hand.

These things I wish for you - tough times and disappointment, hard work and
happiness. To me, it's the only way to appreciate life.

-Paul Harvey