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Exporting Computers

Most people are against exporting old computers to other countries, especially developing countries. There are plenty of organizations and people out there that are whole-heartedly against the idea of sending our old computers out of the country.

Exporting computers to developing countries isn’t always a bad thing. Sending our trash to them so they can just dump it in a landfill is obviously bad. Sending them useable machines to re-use doesn’t seem like a horrible idea.

In our society a computer that’s a few years old is out of date. Companies, organizations and people are constantly updating their computers leaving older working computers that need to be disposed of. To people in developing countries a older working computer is still extremely useable; they would love the chance to posses working computers.

The environmental impact has already been felt once you purchase the computer. The mining of materials and the manufacturing of the computer have already caused an impact on the environment. Even if it’s broken down for recycling the impact has already been made. Re-use is always more “green” than recycling.

 There are standards that have been established for shipping computers overseas. Wr3a is an organization that has setup standards and monitors overseas shipping to help ensure proper repair and re-use of materials. WR3A supports legitimate reuse, repair and recycling businesses overseas by with purchase orders from USA suppliers who maintain a higher standard of quality.  Exporters who mix unrepairable and toxic junk into loads are abusing the environment.  But companies who pledge not to export at all widen the digital divide, and sacrifice sustainable employment (www.wr3a.org). 

The machines can also be tracked to make sure they don’t end up just getting trashed. Legitimate companies that export usually provide information on where they send their machines. For example Good Point (www.retroworks.net) in Vermont tracks where their stuff is sent and they even visit the places where they send materials. These practices help ensure proper re-use of computer equipment.

 Sending our old computers to countries that need them can also create jobs both here and in the receiving country. People are needed here to collect, sort and ship the machines. In the countries receiving the electronics people are needed to sort, distribute and repair the machines as well. Both before they are distributed and once they are put into use.

 Exporting older working/repairable computers and computer equipment can be a good and a band thing. Sending junk to third world countries to be dumped in unsafe landfills isn’t good for anyone. Shipping working and useable computers can help developing nations improve their available technology and increase their standard of living.