Virtually clean?

OECD Observer

What about the environmental impact of computers?

As this French components recycling plant suggests, this may not be negligible. There are direct effects associated with the production and use of IT equipment, as well as with millions of computers, together with their metals and other hazardous substances, being disposed of every day.

And there are more indirect impacts from increased penetration of IT in our economies. Even the effects of e-commerce are uncertain. You may save a trip to the store by shopping online, but the delivery of your purchase generates traffic too.

See for example Matthews, H.S. et al.(2001), “How much did Harry Potter cost?”, in OECD Observer, No 224, January 2001. Also, visit

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©OECD Observer No 240/241, December 2003

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