The amount of water, fossil fuel, and chemicals that go into the production of the average desktop PC and 17-inch CRT monitor is on par with that used to manufacture some automobiles—roughly 1.8 tons. And since computers are usually replaced fairly often, this compounds the embodied energy and toxics problems.
According to Computers and the Environment (Springer, 2003) also states that a computer’s lifetime energy impact is about the same as a refrigerator—with one critical difference. Ninety-six percent of a refrigerator’s typical energy consumption occurs over its lifetime from the grid energy it consumes. For a computer, the situation is reversed: 25% occurs during use, while 75% occurs during production, due largely to its much shorter lifespan (typically two to three years).
Major computer manufacturers have announced initiatives to reduce the toxins in their computers, improve the energy efficiency of their products, and develop more effective reclamation programs. Apple, Hewlett-Packard, Sony, and Lenovo promised to phase out the use of PVC and brominated flame retardants by this year, and some have adopted policies that prohibit their waste from being exported to countries with less stringent environmental regulations.