Tuesday, March 2, 2004

Bendz Speaks About Environmentally Friendly Computers

As part of the course requirements of FOR 496/797 Women in Scientific and Environmental Professions, students share the responsibility of reporting on our speakers for distribution to co-sponsors and the Knothole.  The following press release was prepared by by Nicole Kadey and Susan Tumwebaze.

Diana Bendz returned to her alma mater (ESF Chemistry ’68) to discuss the growing concern and importance of “Environmentally Friendly Computers: New Concepts of Design, (Re) Use and Recycle.”  Ms. Bendz is a Senior Location Executive for the IBM Corporation in Endicott, New York. 

Ms. Bendz’s discussion focused on the digital revolution and its environmental considerations, industry response, and challenges ahead.  The digital revolution included many applications of communication, knowledge access and E-business and E-commerce, distance learning, intelligent buildings, intelligent transportation and entertainment of demand.

Environmental considerations concern the disposal of an overabundance of process waste, the use of excessive energy in recycling, and the tremendous use of PC products and materials by consumers.  Consumers are scrapping computers more than recycling them. The U.S. has not implemented any federal regulations on CRT landfill restrictions as the individual U.S. states still control regulation.  The industry’s response has been primarily concerned with computer design issues, and secondarily with recycling issues. There is an increased awareness in the designing computers for the environment (DfE) and a change in how they are recycled.

There are many challenges ahead for the industry.   There must be a continuance in DfE initiatives that include upgrade-ability, maintenance and repair, material selection, use of recycled material, and design for disassembly and recycling.   Costs must be lowered by creating logistical networks that reduce transportation and processing costs -- an increasing percentage and value of recovered parts -- and by improving the collaboration and harmonization of take back programs initiated by the federal government.  There must be an increased investment in technology with more demand for recycled materials, an improved computer materials separation process, the ability to identify parts for interchangeability and reuse, an industry standard classification for used or certified parts, and an increased ability to reuse packaging material.  There needs to be an improvement in the economy of recycling computers and their parts, and a more effective public/private partnerships which may be coordinated by federal programs, federal R&D initiatives, and responsible policy initiatives. 

Ms. Bendz has been with IBM for 34 years, beginning as a process engineer during the early days of semi-conductor production. Through the years, she filled diverse roles throughout the company until named an executive in 1991. In this position, she developed IBM's much-duplicated program for the design, manufacture, and disposition of environmentally conscious products.

This presentation was jointly sponsored by the ESF Faculty of Chemistry, the Graduate Student Association and the ESF Women’s Caucus.  Only one speaker remains in the 2004 Women in Scientific and Environmental Professions Speaker Series.  GM’s Christine Sloane will address “Sustainable Transportation:  Hydrogen and Fuel-Cell Cars” on April 6.  For more information about the series, visit:  http://www.esf.edu/womenscaucus.