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Good Shopping Guide on electrical goods
Shopping Guide. Ethical Marketing Group
of waste of electrical equipment are increasing at six times that of other domestic
and industrial waste'
newly published Good Shopping Guide is the worlds first comprehensive ethical
reference guide to clearly list the behaviour of the companies behind everyday
You can read the surefish
review of the Good Shopping Guide elsewhere on the site.
You can also find out what the Good shopping Guide says about perfumes
heres what it says about toys.
heres the lowdown on Beer,
Lager and Cider.
To buy your copy of the book from Christian Aid simply call:
020 7523 2229
Heres what the Good Shopping Guide says about
TV and video
Computers may be revolutionising our lives in all kinds of unexpected ways but
they have not turned the world into a cleaner or less stressful place.
In fact, they have created huge environmental pollution problems. As they become
obsolete so quickly, millions are abandoned or junked every week, but the problems
start with the manufacturing process. Since the 1980s, the rush to sell the latest
computers in high volumes has tempted manufactures to cut corners both with the
materials they use and with working conditions in components factories, which
are located all over the world.
We guide you through the key points
to be aware of when considering buying a new whole system computer.
We also encourage you to consider upgrading your existing machine, or alternatively
to buy a reconditioned machine, rather than buying a new one.
Computers become obsolete far quicker than any
other kind of electrical equipment. Levels of waste of electrical equipment are
increasing at six times that of other domestic and industrial waste, and information
technology equipment makes up 39 per cent of the total, compared to televisions
and audio equipment with just 8 per cent.
Studies in the US suggest that
we have not even begun to deal with the serious problem of computer disposal.
It is estimated that over three-quarters of all computers are stockpiled in attics,
cellars and office storage cupboards. They are toxic time bombs, containing not
only materials such as lead, cadmium, mercury and hexavalent chromium but also
some very nasty compounds like brominated flame retardants (BFRs). Landfill sites
and incinerators cannot be expected to dispose of such materials safely.
The EUs directive on Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment has gone
some way to making producers of electronic equipment responsible for disposal,
with a view to reducing local councils recycling costs. It is hoped that
the directive will also persuade the manufacturers to use materials that are easier
to re-use and recycle.
Computers are made up of modular parts, each of which
contains many different components, often produced by different manufacturers
around the world.
Previously, much of the highly skilled work, such as
silicon chip manufacture, was undertaken in the US. Semiconductor production uses
more toxic gases than any other industry, which dangers for the workforce. Because
of protest in the US, the computer manufacturers have been moving their most dangerous
and heavily polluting stages of production to Latin America, where wages and environmental
standards are lower.
IBM has made some investments in environmental design
and was the first to make a computer using 100 per cent recycled plastic in all
its major parts. IBM and Hewlett Packard were among the first major companies
to ban the use of BFRs (see TV & Video) in computer casing, although they
continued to rely on suppliers of components that still contained such compounds.
Upgrading and reconditioning
The most obvious sign of age in a computer is the speed of its main processor,
the price of which increases the further up the scale you go. A positive step
for the future would be for manufacturers to sell processor upgrades similar to
that of software.
It is possible to buy a second-hand branded, out-of-the-box
computer, which has been fully reconditioned with a new keyboard, mouse and software,
direct from the factory and still under warranty. Second-user PCs can be bought
on the internet or by mail order.
Shopping Guide ratings
If too much TV rots the brain, then were probably
all done for, but at least we can try to watch only what we really like
its amazing how much electricity that could save, and it would prevent the
box from wearing out so fast.
dump that set
We dump around 2.5 million TV sets every year
in the UK. Landfilled or incinerated sets are a loss of resources and a potential
pollution hazard plastics and cathode ray tubes can contain toxic substances.
If were getting a new set, we should look for a higher quality and more
durable model that can be upgraded in future. If we want to get rid of an old
one, we should take it to a second hand or charity shop. If the old one is broken
and no one will take it, its best to take it to the civic amenity site where
it can be used for scrap or recycled.
According to one scientific estimate, producing
the energy necessary to power our TV viewing creates 7 million tonnes of carbon
dioxide and 10,000 tonnes of sulphur dioxide per year. Manufacturers seem to have
picked up on this and, as a rule, newer TVs and video recorders are more energy-efficient
than earlier ones.
Even in standby mode, we waste about £12 million
in electricity consumption a year, Friends of the Earth has estimated. A Which?
study in 1998 found that Sony, Ferguson, Matsui, Samsung and Sharp came out best,
using under 5 watts in standby mode compared with more than 10 watts used
by Mitsubishi, Hitachi, Toshiba and Sanyo models.
A TV set requires a surprisingly large amount of raw materials. Making the glass
screen needs sand and electricity, while the glass for the cathode ray tube contains
lead oxide and is coated in graphite to absorb X-rays these impurities
make the tube the hardest component to recycle and this is partly why liquid crystal
display (LCDs) are a less environmentally damaging alternative to conventional
The making of circuit boards uses chemicals, water and energy
and generates more hazardous waste than any other part of the TV, especially airborne
particulate pollution and chemical waste. TVs and video casings often use brominated
flame retardants (BFRs), the making of which can have nasty effects on animal
and human health. Friends of the Earth has been campaigning for BFRs to be outlawed
there is more information on the FoE website (www.foe.co.uk).
Damage to viewers
TVs and videos emit non-ionising radiation over a range of frequencies. Although
currently no proven adverse health links exist, the issue stimulates contentious
debate and it is best to be cautious, by sitting at least six feet away from the
screen and, after use, by switching off devices fully, especially in bedrooms.
Buy second hand TVs and videos where possible
Switch off when youre not watching instead of leaving the TV on standby
Dont sit too near a TV
Favour smaller sets and/or check
out LCD screens
If the TV or video breaks, see if it can be repaired,
or make sure it is recycled
Bang & Olufsen
To see how the Good Shopping Guide reached these
conclusions, youll have to buy the book, which is available from Christian
Aid by calling 020 7523 2229