Okt 09, 2017 by Robin Category: Unkategorisiert 0 comments

Green Electronics: The Why and the How

There Is Lots Of Waste, and Recycling Is Worth the Effort.

Electronics create huge amounts of waste around the world. It is hard to recycle, toxic, and extremely valuable — gold, aluminum, copper and rare earth metals can be found en masse.

Recycling, therefore, needs urgent promotion and government focus. We, the people, profit directly from reduced environmental depletion and from saved cost: Recycling is actually considerably more efficient than processing of raw materials. For example, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that one metric ton of circuit boards can contain 40 to 800 times the amount of gold and 30 to 40 times the amount of copper mined from one metric ton of ore.

But Optimized Product Lifetimes and Reuse Are Even Smarter.

Even more energy efficient would be prolonged life times of electronic products, that in the U.S. are typically replaced every 2 to 4 years. Several aspects are involved here:

  • Manufacturing of any kind of product should aim to be as high-quality as economically reasonable to increase product lifetime.
  • Electronic products with complex software, as is typical in the Internet of Things age we entered, need lasting software support.
  • Electronic products should be designed to be easy to update. (E.g. an old notebook with a new SSD drive may be worth keeping.)

Counter Capitalism.

Now here’s the problem: Without government regulation, none of this typically agrees with capitalism.

  • Manufacturing high-quality products is more expensive. („Who’d buy that?“)
  • Products that last are sold less often, and the market is saturated more quickly.
  • Continuing quality software support is very expensive. Companies typically don’t even like to start out with good software, and even less to keep it updated over years.
  • Electronic products that can be updated are not only more expensive to make, they also are typically less compact.

An updated tax concept, stronger product regulation, Basic Income; your choices when buying products, and the questions you ask companies who produce electronic products all have the potential to improve the situation for us, our planet, and those after us.

Ask for Reusable Products that Last, Now.

  • Don’t buy anything with non-replacable battery. Ever.
  • Try to use electronics for as long as you can. The newest features usually aren’t worth much when it comes to improving your life.
  • Prefer open source software. This increases chances for someone to provide long-term support for your hardware.
  • Create and support repair shops. Stand up against Apple planning to fight the proposed ‚Right to Repair‘ legislation.
  • When you have no further need for your electronic products, try to find someone who does. There’s a big community out there that repairs and reuses, and puts new life into things. At least try selling it on eBay.
  • Smartphones and computers in particular nearly always can be reused for something, by someone, entirely or in parts.
  • Recycle damaged products properly; many US states and the EU WEEE regulation enforce take-back laws. Many companies also provide voluntary take-back services for electronics they sell.

You can support such organizations as the Green Electronics Council, that is a vital player in the promotion of efficient electronics design, manufacture, use and recycling. Or you can talk to politicians, and ask them to find an answer to big companies undermining environmental protection and efficient product design.

What we do: Support Efficient Design

We were running a Crowdfunding campaign for a product that increases flexibility and reusability in electronics design early 2017. If you care, stay up to date and register for our newsletter. Thanks!

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