Computer update

Wooden monitors to protect environs

Published: Monday 31 May 2004

-- concerned about the hazards of high-tech trash? Here is a piece of good news. A Swedish company has started marketing wooden computer monitors and keyboards that aim to brighten office life, while cutting down the environmental impact of hi-tech junk. With large number of computers stacking up in landfills worldwide, there is a growing concern about the toxic materials of their casings and chips leaching into the environment.

As a possible solution to this problem, Swedx has started manufacturing computer screens, keyboards and mouse encased in timber. Swedx's wooden cases are built using wood logged from monoculture plantations in China. A 15-inch flat screen monitor, available in beech, ash or sapele wood, costs about us $486, a keyboard us $60 and a mouse us $48. The cost is roughly 30 per cent more than that of the plastic versions, says company vice-president Jan Salloum. But he believes the market for such products will soon grow as people become aware about environmental problems.

The wooden computers, however, are not an environmental panacea. "They still contain pollutants such as lead in the monitor's cathode ray tubes and heavy metals such as cadmium in microchips," asserts Eric Williams who studies computers' environmental impact at the United Nations University, Japan.

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