From the August 2002 issue of Entrepreneur

Wasting Away

Planned or unplanned, obsolescence will eventually take its toll on your computers. With heaps of outdated, lead- and mercury-containing hardware in closets, on desks and in junkyards, computer recycling and disposal has grown into a hot issue. Analysts and manufacturers agree it's not wise to dump tons of electronics into landfills, and it's ethically dubious to ship them off overseas.

Since we're stuck with it, one important question is: Who is going to pay for it? Two California senators have answers in the form of potential legislation. One proposes consumer fees for recycling cathode ray tubes, while the other calls for a statewide program requiring manufacturers to take back old hazardous electronics or pay a fee to the state.

The National Electronics Product Stewardship Initiative (NEPSI) is composed of stakeholders from government, industry and environmental groups. In a sign of things to come, NEPSI has proposed a "front-end financed system" that will add the cost of recycling to the initial purchase price of a computer. NEPSI is on course to unveil a nationwide program by the end of this year.

In the meantime, visit the Electronic Industries Alliance's Consumer Education Initiative site at www.eiae.org to find a local reuse or recycling program. Another option is to check with the manufacturer. IBM, for example, has a $30-per- machine recycling service aimed at small businesses. But whatever you do, don't toss that old PC in the dumpster.

Gettin' Down With Dial-Up

Dial-up that lets you make and take phone calls. Dial-up with half the fizzes when you connect. It sounds like a pleasant dream, but it's the V.92 modem standard that's trying to replace the familiar V.90. Much as we'd like everyone to broadband, most people still use dial-up.

V.92 has some promising features that can tide your workers over until broadband expands, but it's not a sure bet. The technology requires new hardware on the user side and new upgrades by ISPs. Many modem-makers are already on the V.92 bandwagon, and technology researcher In-Stat/MDR expects 100 percent of modems shipped in 2004 will be V.92. Log on to www. v92.com for more in-depth information.