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Dealing with electronic waste: modeling the costs and environmental benefits of computer monitor disposal

TitleDealing with electronic waste: modeling the costs and environmental benefits of computer monitor disposal
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2003
AuthorsMacauley M, Palmer K, Shih J-S
Journal TitleJournal of Environmental Management
Volume68
Pages13-22
Keywordscost-benefit analysis, End-of-life electronics, Simulation modeling, waste stream
AbstractThe importance of information technology to the world economy has brought about a surge in demand for electronic equipment. Withrapid technological change, a growing fraction of the increasing stock of many types of electronics becomes obsolete each year. We modelthe costs and benefits of policies to manage ‘e-waste’ by focusing on a large component of the electronic waste stream—computermonitors—and the environmental concerns associated with disposal of the lead embodied in cathode ray tubes (CRTs) used in most monitors.We find that the benefits of avoiding health effects associated with CRT disposal appear far outweighed by the costs for a wide range ofpolicies. For the stock of monitors disposed of in the United States in 1998, we find that policies restricting or banning some popular disposaloptions would increase disposal costs from about $1 per monitor to between $3 and $20 per monitor. Policies to promote a modest amount ofrecycling of monitor parts, including lead, can be less expensive. In all cases, however, the costs of the policies exceed the value of theavoided health effects of CRT disposal.
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