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World’s E-Waste ‘Unsustainable’, Says UN Report Citing China, India, and US

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By Reuters | Updated: 3 July 2020 11:05 IST:

Across the river from Delhi’s Red Fort, the grim neighbourhood of Seelampur lives off what consumers in the modern world throw away – their broken or obsolete electronic and electrical goods.

Home to one of the world’s largest markets for e-waste, Seelampur exemplifies the challenge highlighted in a UN-led report released on Thursday.

The Global E-waste Monitor 2020 report found that the world dumped a record 53.6 million tonnes of e-waste last year. Just 17.4 percent was recycled.

“Even countries with a formal e-waste management system in place are confronted with relatively low collection and recycling rates,” the report said.

China, with 10.1 million tonnes, was the biggest contributor to e-waste, and the United States was second with 6.9 million tonnes. India, with 3.2 million tonnes, was third. Together these three countries accounted for nearly 38 percent of the world’s e-waste last year.

While the overall damage done to the environment from all the un-recycled waste may be incalculable, the message from the report was conclusive: “The way in which we produce, consume, and dispose of e-waste is unsustainable.”

Global warming is just one issue cited by the report as it noted 98 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalents were released into the atmosphere as a result of inadequate recycling of “undocumented” refrigerators and air conditioners.

This year’s coronavirus lockdowns have exacerbated the e-waste problem.

People stuck at home are de-cluttering, and because of the lockdowns there are few workers collecting and recycling the junk, Kees Balde, a senior programme officer with the sustainable cycles programme at the United Nations University, another contributor to the report, told Reuters.
New consumers, more junk

What is happening in India and China is symptomatic of a wider problem in developing countries, where demand for goods like washing machines, refrigerators, and air conditioners is rising rapidly.

“In middle- and low-income countries, the e-waste management infrastructure is not yet fully developed or, in some cases, is entirely absent,” the report said.

Dinesh Raj Bandela, deputy programme manager at the Centre for Science and Environment, a New Delhi-based research and advocacy body, said India’s focus on e-waste had to go beyond collection, and manufacturers should be encouraged to produce consumer goods that last longer and are less toxic.

Although India is the only country in South Asia to draft legislation for e-waste, its collection remains rudimentary.

In Seelampur, the maze of filthy lanes are filled with scrap shops where thousands of people work, picking apart whatever is salvageable from the junk gathered from across north India.

Outside each shop there are piles of old monitor screens, desktop computers, broken landline telephones, mobile handsets, televisions, voltage stabilisers, air-cons, refrigerators, microwaves, vacuum cleaners, and washing machines.

Vines of old electric cable are strewn or rolled over the mountains of electronic trash.

Shopkeepers and workers are extremely suspicious of any outsider walking through the narrow lanes, especially journalists. Mohammed Abid, a scrap e-waste dealer, who was willing to speak, denied that ways of handling e-waste in Seelampur broke any laws or posed any dangers.

“There are certain jobs that create a lot of problem for the environment, but in this market no such work is done that affects the environment or increases the pollution – nothing of that sort is done here,” he said, while the stench from a nearby open drain filled the air.

© Thomson Reuters 2020

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Lenovo Posts Jump in PC Sales on Remote Working Trend

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By Reuters | Updated: 13 August 2020

Lenovo Group, the world’s biggest PC maker, smashed expectations with a 31 percent leap in first-quarter net profit, as the coronavirus pandemic spurs businesses to shift to remote work and schools to switch to online learning.

Consumers stuck at home are also spending more on PCs and other smart devices for entertainment purposes, the Chinese giant said.

Net profit came in at $213 million (roughly Rs. 1,593 crores) for the April-June quarter, nearly double market estimates while revenue grew 7 percent to $13.3 billion (roughly Rs. 99,512 crores).

In particular, China sales surged, climbing 17 percent while those in Europe, the Middle East and Africa jumped 28 percent. Sales in the Americas however dropped 9 percent, hit by a declining demand for smartphones in Latin America and a shortage of components for Chromebooks in North America.

“Chinese government is driving domestic consumption – for sure we should leverage that to grow our business. Last quarter results can prove that we have very strong position in China,” Lenovo Chairman Yang Yuanqing told a briefing.

Yang told Reuters in a later interview that demand still had far more room to grow in China, where the penetration rate for PCs was still somewhere between 20 percent and 30 percent compared to that in the United States of 70 percent.

He said Lenovo’s sales during China’s June 18 shopping festival – which is heavily promoted by e-commerce platforms – had doubled over the previous year. “We really see the strong rebound after the COVID-19,” he said.

According to research firm Gartner, worldwide shipments of personal computers rose 2.8 percent in the April-June quarter, as vendors restocked their channels and mobile PC demand increased.

Lenovo retained its lead in PCs with 25 percent of the market, ahead of HP and Dell Technologies which had 24.9 percent and 16.4 percent respectively.

Lenovo shares ended down 3 percent, having jumped earlier this week in the lead up to the earnings release on anticipation of a strong performance.

© Thomson Reuters 2020

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Acer Swift 3 With 10th Generation Intel Core i5 CPU, 56Wh Battery Launched in India

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Acer has launched the Swift 3 laptop as it expands the product lines with more options, which would find customers across price categories. It is a part of Intel’s Project Athena programme that promises the laptop has passed rigorous testing and will offer consistent and satisfying PC experience. The Swift 3 laptop will be suitable for more powerful functionalities and tasks, such as video editing, running Photoshop, playing some games. To enable this experience, Intel requires laptops to have an Intel Core i5 or Core i7 processor, 8GB or more RAM, Wi-Fi 6, 16+ hours of video playback, among other requirements.

Acer Swift 3 India Price

The Acer Swift 3 SF313-52 is priced at Rs. 64,999 in India. It will go on sale via the company’s online store, Acer Exclusive stores, and partner retail stores across the country. The laptop is offered in a single Silver colour option.

Acer Swift 3 specifications

The Acer Swift 3 runs on a 64-bit version of Windows 10 Home. It features a 13.5-inch IPS display with 2,256×1,504 pixels resolution, 400 nits brightness, and 3:2 aspect ratio with narrow bezels. It also covers 100 percent of the Adobe sRGB colour gamut. There is an HD 720p webcam on top of the screen as well.

It has the latest 10th-Gen Intel Core i5-1035G4 processor with 8GB of LPDDR4 RAM and a 512GB PCIe Gen3 NVMe SSD with up to four lanes. The Intel Iris Plus Graphics that pretty much handle most functions on it. This combination is good enough for medium-range games, and not to mention the everyday tasks such as internet browsing, typing, emailing, preparing slides, and watching movies. The laptop packs 8GB of LPDDR4 RAM and 512GB of PCIe Gen3 NVMe SSD storage, which means you will have plenty of room for media files and large game files.

It is backed by a 56Wh battery that is claimed to offer 17 hours of battery life. The Acer Swift 3 comes with a 65W AC adapter and a backlit keyboard. Connectivity options on the thin and light notebook include Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.0, There are multiple ports on the Acer Swift 3 – a USB 3.1 Gen 1 port, USB-C port, a USB 2.0 port, an HDMI port, and a pogo-pin charging port. There is a backlit keyboard on the Acer Swift 3.

The laptop weighs 1.19 kg, which is not too heavy considering the price and specifications. It is 15.9mm thick, which is not the best we have seen in the range.

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Asus ZenBook 13, 14, Vivobook S14, Vivobook Ultra K14 With 10th Gen Intel CPU Launched in India

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Asus India has just announced today the launch of the latest generation of ZenBook and VivoBook laptops. The new laptops arrive just at the right time considering demands for laptops and tablets have increased since the lockdown.

Asus has launched four new laptops, the VivoBook Ultra K14 (K423), VivoBook S14 (S433), ZenBook 13 (UX325), and ZenBook 14 (UX425). The new thin and light laptops come with the latest Intel 10th Gen CPUs. The ZenBook 13 and ZenBook 14 come with up to 22 hours of battery life and fast charging support. They also have slim bezels and a touchpad that turns into a numpad. All four laptops will be available in India from today, July 30, as per the company’s press release.

Price and Availability

Asus Vivobook Ultra K14 (K413) will be available for a starting price of Rs. 39,990. It will be sold via Amazon as well as offline channels. The VivoBook S14 (S433), on the other hand, starts at a price of Rs. 67,990 and will be available via offline channels only.

As for the ZenBook 13 and 14, both the laptops are available for a starting price of Rs. 79,990. The two laptops will be available via Flipkart, Amazon as well as offline retail stores.

Asus Zenbook 14 and 13: Specs and features

The Asus ZenBook 14 and 13 comes with lightweight, diamond-cut aluminum alloy construction. The new ZenBooks are powered by Intel’s latest 10th Gen Ice Lake processors that are built on a 10nm process. These come equipped with up to 16GB LPDDR4X memory, and up to 1TB PCIe 3.0 NVMe SSDs. The ZenBook 13 and 14 come with two Thunderbolt 3 ports, standard HDMI 2.0 and USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A ports, along with a microSD card reader.

VivoBook S14 S433 specifications

The VivoBook S14 S433 comes with Windows 10 Home pre-installed and features a 14-inch LED backlit full-HD (1,920×1,080 pixels) IPS panel with 16:9 aspect ratio and 85 percent screen to body ratio. It is powered by up to an Intel Core i7-10510U CPU, an Nvidia GeForce MX250 GPU with 2GB GDDR5 VRAM, coupled with 8GB 2,666MHz DDR4 RAM and 512GB PCIe 3.0 M.2 SSD that is upgradable up to 1 TB. For connectivity, the VivoBook S14 S433 comes with Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth v5.0, a USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-C port, a USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A port, two USB 2.0 Type-A ports, an HDMI 1.4, a 3.5mm combo audio jack, and an SD card reader. All this is backed by a 50Wh battery. The VivoBook S14 S433 measures 324.9×213.5×15.9mm and weighs 1.4kg.

VivoBook Ultra K14 K413 specifications

The VivoBook Ultra K14 K413 comes with Windows 10 Home and features a 14-inch full-HD LED backlit display. It is powered by up to an Intel Core i5-10210U CPU and Intel UHD Graphics 620. You get up to 8GB 2,666MHz DDR4 RAM and up to a 512GB M.2 NVME PCIe X2 SSD. Connectivity options on the VivoBook Ultra K14 K413 up to dual-band Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax), Bluetooth v5.0, a USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-C port, a USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A port, two USB 2.0 Type-A ports, an HDMI 1.4, a 3.5mm combo audio jack, and a microSD card reader. The battery is 42Wh and the VivoBook Ultra K14 K413 measures 324.9x215x17.9mm weighing 1.4kg.

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Intel Ousts Chief Engineer, Shakes Up Technical Group After 7nm Chip Delay

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By Reuters | Updated: 28 July 2020

Intel’s Chief Engineering Officer Murthy Renduchintala is departing, part of a move in which a key technology unit will be separated into five teams, the chipmaker said on Monday.

Intel said it is reorganising its technology, systems architecture, and client group. Its new leaders will report directly to Chief Executive Officer Bob Swan.

Ann Kelleher, a 24-year Intel veteran, will lead development of 7-nanometer and 5-nanometer chip technology processes. Last week, the company had said the smaller, faster 7-nanometer chipmaking technology was six months behind schedule and it would have to rely more on outside chipmakers to keep its products competitive.

Renduchintala, who was president of the wide-ranging group before its reorganisation and widely seen as a No. 2 to Swan, joined Intel in 2015. He was executive vice president of Qualcomm, and has been on Accenture’s board since April 2018.

Renduchintala was one of several key hires from outside Intel, which had been famous in Silicon Valley for developing and promoting talent from within. He was hired as part of a strategy to go after broader markets than the central processing units, or CPUs, the company became known for in the PC era.

One major effort, creating modem chips to connect smartphones to mobile data networks, ended last year. Intel sold the business to Apple for $1 billion (roughly Rs. 7,485 crores), a fraction of what it had invested in the effort.

Renduchintala eventually took responsibly for turning around Intel’s process technology, which struggled with years of delay for its current 10-nanometer process. CEO Swan told investors in November that Intel was set start catching up to rivals with its 7-nanometer process in early 2021, but was forced to reverse himself last week because of the delays.

Intel said Renduchintala will depart August 3.

© Thomson Reuters 2020

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Microsoft Sees Growth Amid Pandemic Computing Demands

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By Agence France-Presse | Updated: 23 July 2020

Microsoft on Wednesday reported rising revenues in the past quarter amid strong demand for cloud computing services from pandemic-hit businesses and consumers and big gains in its Xbox gaming operations.

Profits in the quarter ending June 30 fell 15 percent to $11.2 billion (roughly Rs. 83,622 crores), the result of increased tax charges compared with a year ago.

Revenue meanwhile rose 13 percent to $38 billion (roughly Rs. 2.83 lakh crores), led by strong gains in its cloud computing and its Xbox gaming services.

Chief executive Satya Nadella said Microsoft was equipped to deal with the coronavirus pandemic with its “integrated, modern technology stack.”

“We are seeing businesses accelerate the digitisation of every part of their operations from manufacturing to sales to customer service,” Nadella told a conference call.

Microsoft shares dipped some 2.5 percent in after-hours trade on the results, which were largely ahead of forecasts.

Its shares have been trading at near record levels amid a surge of some 50 percent since March, giving it a market value of more than $1.6 trillion (roughly Rs. 1,19,42,000 crores).

Revenue from Microsoft’s “intelligent cloud” division which includes its Azure enterprise business rose 17 percent to $13.4 billion (roughly Rs. 1 lakh crores) in the fiscal fourth quarter.

In the personal computing segment including the Windows operating system, revenues were up 14 percent to $12.9 billion (roughly Rs. 96,298 crores).

Within that segment, Xbox gaming service revenues rose 65 percent and sales for its Surface devices were up 28 percent.

Xbox hardware revenue increased 49 percent, as Microsoft boosted the number of consoles sold even with a newer version expected later this year.

“This was a breakthrough quarter for gaming,” Nadella said.

“We saw record engagement and monetisation… as people everywhere turned to gaming to connect, socialise, and play.”

Microsoft saw a more modest six percent revenue rise in its productivity and business operations which include the Office software suite and LinkedIn.

Daniel Ives at Wedbush Securities called the Microsoft results “robust,” led by its cloud computing that benefits from the work-from-home trend.

“This current remote work from home environment is further catalysing more enterprises to make the strategic cloud shift with Microsoft the main beneficiary as evidenced by the solid results this evening,” Ives said.

Earlier Wednesday, the workplace messaging platform Slack filed an EU antitrust complaint against Microsoft, alleging that the integration of the “Teams” service into the Office software suit represented unfair competition.

Microsoft said Teams was growing because it offers video, which Slack does not.

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TSMC Reports Record Q2 Profits on Demand for Faster Chips

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By Reuters | Updated: 16 July 2020

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC) said quarterly net profit surged 81 percent to a record level and predicted hefty revenue gains for the third-quarter on robust orders for advanced chips.

High-performance chips used in 5G telecommunications and other new technologies have been in strong demand, particularly as more people work from home and companies scramble to add more bandwidth amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The world’s largest contract chipmaker estimated third-quarter revenue could climb as much 22 percent from a year earlier to $11.5 billion (roughly Rs. 86,428), a forecast that comes despite losing Huawei Technologies as a customer after the United States slapped a ban on selling to the Chinese company.

“We expect our business to be supported by strong demand for our industry-leading 5 nanometre and 7 nanometre technologies, driven by 5G smartphones, high-performance computing and IoT-related applications,” Chief Financial Officer Wendell Huang told a briefing.

April-June net profit came in at TWD 120.8 billion (roughly Rs. 30,833 crores), 8 percent ahead of market expectations, while revenue for the quarter climbed 34.1 percent to $10.4 billion (roughly Rs. 78,210 crores).

Underscoring its bullish outlook, it lifted capital spending plans for this year to $16-$17 billion (roughly Rs. 1.20 lakh crores – roughly Rs. 1.27 lakh crores) from a prior estimate of $15-$16 billion (roughly Rs. 1.12 lakh crores – roughly Rs. 1.20 lakh crores). It spent $14.9 billion (roughly Rs. 1.12 lakh crores) in 2019.

TSMC, which counts Apple and Qualcomm among its customers, said it has made decent progress in filling up capacity since the loss of Huawei orders. It stopped taking new orders from the Chinese telecommunications and smartphone giant in May and does not plan to ship wafers after September 15.

TSMC unveiled plans for a $12 billion (roughly Rs 90,225) plant in Arizona in May, a move widely seen as currying favour with the United States as Washington spars with over Beijing over trade and Huawei.

The plant will make advanced 5 nanometre chips and is due to start operating in 2024, targeting production of 20,000 wafers per month, the company said on Thursday.

TSMC also said it expects the global market for contract chip manufacturing to show mid- to high-teens percentage growth this year, up from a previous forecast of a high single-digit to low teens percentage growth.

TSMC shares have risen about 10 percent this year, giving it a market value of $320 billion (roughly Rs. 24.06 lakh crores), overtaking US rival Intel which now has a market value of $249 billion (roughly Rs. 18.72 lakh crores).


© Thomson Reuters 2020

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