Author to talk tech trash

At times, I have upwards of 20 empty drinking receptacles on my desk here at InfoWorld. It's not that I anticipate my empty Glaceau Vitamin Water (i.e. Kool-Aid for adults) bottles will suddenly appreciate in value. I'm a recycling proponent -- albeit a well-hydrated one with a propensity to procrastinate.

So what happens when a similarly environmentally-minded CTO, for example, faces the task of getting rid of a load of PCs and monitors? For the sake of both the environment and security, he or she might want to recycle them. And in order to learn just how and why to do that, might be interested in a talk to be given on Aug. 15 by author Elizabeth Grossman, who will be speaking in San Francisco about her latest book, "High Tech Trash: Digital Devices, Hidden Toxics, and Human Health."

Grossman argues that "e-waste" warrants some serious attention, citing on her Web site facts about its environmental and health impacts. Tons of lectronics such as monitors, PCs, and semi-conductors, are being improperly dumped or melted down, she says, which can release dangerous materials such as lead, mercury, and copper. Plus, it's pretty wasteful; the systems that are too slow to do the 3D rendering your organization needs may be a perfect fit for the local public school or community center.

One of the answers to the problem of the ever-growing piles of junked computers and LCDs, she says, is recycling programs, and she cites several places you might go to help you with that task. Among them is the eBay-hosted ReThink Program, where you can find an extensive list of electronics recyclers.

When choosing a recycler, she recommends, be sure to ask about how equipment is tracked and where it will be sent. "What you want ensure is that your equipment won't be exported to parts of the world where unsafe, environmentally unsound recycling or dumping takes place — or anywhere else that you're not comfortable with," she writes.

For the sake of security, Grossman advises that you be sure to ask about how the recycler or reuse organization "handles data destruction: Can the recycler or reuse organization wipe the hard drive for you and provide documentation that they have done so?" Of course, you also can do that data-scrub in-house, for better peace of mind.

For more guidance to disposing of your old electronic gear, consider checking out this article from CIO.

If you live in the Bay Area, you can see her live at 7:00 p.m. Pacific at Book Passage, located at 1 Ferry Plaza, #46, in San Francisco. Otherwise, C-SPAN will be recording the talk and running it several times in coming weeks. (Check your local listings, or the C-SPAN Web site, for details.)