The average life of a computer is about two years. After that time if it is still, working it is probably hopelessly outdated and the owner is looking to replace it with a faster and more powerful new computer. Then the old one becomes e-trash.
Each year, about 2,25 million tons of TVs, cell phones and computers are tossed out each year. About 18% are recycled, while the other 82% are trashed -- usually in a landfill. A University of Houston graduate student, Benden Macaluso, thinks he has come up with a partial solution to this problem. As a part of his graduate thesis, Macaluso invented a cardboard case for a computer.
The recyclable cardboard case requires less time, labor and parts to produce, since it can be assembled without screws or fasteners. This eliminates the cost and time to produce these elements. The computer will not only be less expensive, but will be easier to disassemble and recycle. The case itself can be safely trashed or reused (depending on its condition).
Macaluso even thinks he's solved the problem of overheating. He says the enclosure uses the corrugation of the cardboard as a ventilating system. The processor has its own built-in cooling fan, and the motherboard and power supply are isolated from each other.
A cardboard case would also be susceptible to liquids, but Macaluso assumes people will think enough of their computers to avoid spilling liquids on them. The case can also be cleaned of dust by spraying it with air.
Macaluso says, "We already know that the computer will be thrown out, so I designed an object that does just that. If we were already reusing cases and replacing hardware (and software) at a mass scale, we would not have nearly the problems that we have now."
Macaluso is talking with some companies about marketing his product (which he has dubbed "Recompute"), but so far it has not been marketed. There is even some talk of selling a do-it-yourself computer kit that includes the hardware and the cardboard case.
I'm not sure what I think about this idea. I must admit I like the well-built feel of my MacBook, and that won't be achieved with a cardboard case. But who knows? There may be a cardboard computer in all our futures.