UN alliance seeks solutions to tech "

A new UN-led alliance will work out global scrapping guidelines to protect the environment from mountains of electronic trash such as computers, phones and televisions, a Reuters report said.

The Reuters report said 3 UN agencies, 16 firms including Microsoft, Hewlett-Packard and Philips, several government bodies and universities are teaming up with goals such as more recycling and longer lives for electronic goods.

Older gadgets contain poisonous chemicals such as dioxins or PCBs or heavy metals such as mercury or cadmium, the group said.

Some products contain valuable gold and platinum or more exotic indium, used in flat-screen televisions, or ruthenium, used in resistors. Prices of indium, for instance, have surged to $725 a kilo from $70 in 2002, the report said.

The Reuters report said electronic and electrical waste is among the fastest-growing types of trash in the world and is likely soon to reach 40 million metric tons a year, or enough to fill a line of dump trucks stretching half way round the world, StEP said.

The report further said StEP would run several projects in coming years, likely to cost millions of dollars, to lay down guidelines for scrapping gadgets, building on national legislation from places such as Japan, the European Union and the US.