The world’s growing mountain of discarded electrical and electronic equipment — better known as E-waste — is a big and growing problem. Leading PC makers are starting to do something about it.
In 2019 the world generated 53.6 million metric tons of e-waste, according to the Global E-Waste Statistics Partnership (GESP), an international group that monitors the issue. (A metric ton equals 1,000 kilograms, or roughly 2,205 pounds.) Of that total, GESP estimates that only17% was properly collected and recycled.
The volume is growing quickly. By 2030, GESP expects, the world will generate a total of 74.7 million metric tons of e-waste. That would mean e-waste generation had nearly doubled in just 16 years.
To be sure, not all e-waste comes from PCs. It also includes discarded air conditioners, microwave ovens, refrigerators, solar panels and lamps.
Still, in 2019, screens and monitors — a category that includes laptops, notebooks, tablets and displays — totaled 6.7 million metric tons, according to GESP. That works out to nearly 13% of the year’s total.
To help remedy the situation, some PC makers are developing products made from ecologically sound, sometimes recycled materials. Here’s a sampling:
Acer: recycled materials in a laptop
Acer last week introduced its first PC built from recycled materials. Called the Aspire Vero, it’s a notebook PC designed for the new Windows 11.
Acer says the Aspire Vero is made from 30% post-consumer resin (PCR) plastic for its chassis, reducing carbon-dioxide emissions by about 20%. The device’s keyboard caps are made from 50% PCR to reduce pollution from the production of “virgin” plastic. And the surface of the chassis has been left unpainted.
Acer’s new Aspire Vero laptop
In addition, Acer’s laptop comes in a protective bag that’s made from 100% recycled plastic. Its carton box is 85% recycled materials. And Acer is encouraging its suppliers to use paper sleeves instead of plastic.
Otherwise, the Aspire Vero looks like a good if standard offering. It features a 15.6-inch display. Fit it out with an 11th gen Intel Core i7 processor, 16GB of DDR4 memory, and 512GB of SSD storage, and you’ll have a starting price of $900. Swap that for a less powerful Intel Core i5 processor, just 8GB of memory and 256GB of storage, and the starting retail price drops to $700.
HP consumer laptop: sustainable, recycled, light
Over the summer, HP introduced a consumer laptop, the Pavilion Aero 13, made with post-consumer recycled and what’s known as ocean-bound plastics.
Ocean-bound means the plastic is recycled from bottles and other goods that would have otherwise ended up in the ocean. HP estimates that shipments of this PC will prevent 6,000 plastic bottles from entering the ocean.
HP Pavilion Aero 13 laptop
There’s more, too. The HP Aero 13 is coated with water-based paint, reducing emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs). And the device’s outer box and cushions are made from 100% sustainably sourced and recycled materials.
As the name implies, the Aero 13 has a 13.3-inch display. And it’s HP’s lightest laptop, weighing just under 1 kg (2.2 lb.). Retail prices start at about $750.
Microsoft: ocean plastic mouse
Mouse pointing devices contribute to e-waste, too. To help reduce these mouse droppings, Microsoft last month introduced its Ocean Plastic Mouse.
Microsoft worked with SABIC, a Saudi Arabia-based chemicals company, to develop a high-quality resin made from 20% recycled ocean plastic recovered or washed ashore from oceans and other waterways. The new wireless mouse is made from this resin.
U.S. shipments have just started. The mouse retails for a budget-friendly $25.
Microsoft Ocean Plastic Mouse & packaging
In addition, the Microsoft mouse is packaged in 100% recycled materials. Its small box is free of plastic and instead is made from wood and sugarcane fibers.
Buy this mouse, and you can also send Microsoft your old mouse to be recycled. The company is offering a free mail-in program.
Want to be part of the e-waste solution? Check out these and other green PC products.