Reuse is discouraged mostly because of built-in obsolescence. Unfortunately this is not obsolescence due to newer models having more meaningful capabilities. Devices become obsolete because they are not worth fixing, and this is mainly because they are designed not to be fixed. This is in contrast with the built-in obsolescence seen in the '70's with US-made automobiles. Then US automakers saw a major loss of market share as Pacific-rim automakers raised the bar on quality management. Not sure why policy-makers would be interested in having recycling jobs in the US when exporting manufacturing jobs has been so lucrative. Obviously they care more about chips than jobs. Maybe if the trend extends beyond recycling to reuse and repair, it might create jobs requiring useful skills.
With the price of gold at an all time high, the recyclers will definitely prefer recycling to re-use. But what a waste of other materials and the inability to purchase new computers means less access for the poor to get and keep PCs.
i am not suggesting that to reduce e-waste we should slow the progress of technological advancement but we, as a consumer, should be more complacent in replacing our household items every 2 to 4 years. Most of replaced items last longer than the warranty period. Also, although this solution is not going to work for the industry, but they can make product which last long and can focus on product development from a long term point of view. The new product can really be a much superior product rather than just a add on to the previous product.
The U.S. government moves slowly. If the bill gets passed and implemented within the next five years it will be a miracle. I just received a press release describing how the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency fined TMW Corp., $100,000 for violations of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act.The violations were discovered at the company’s facility, Crown Chrome Plating, a division of TMW, during an inspection conducted by EPA in April 2009. I'm sure there are many more examples similar to this one.
We already have the infrastructure in the US to practice Reuse but it is dying a slow death. I use to be a consumer electronics (CE) repairer in the 80-90's and have gotten out of the business as others have because it is not worth to fix or cannot fix many modern CE profitable due to soldering complexity, parts availability, obsolescence, and all but the big ticket items are worth repairing. The numbers are smaller who want to repair CE because those who are wealthy enough to buy new will likely buy new again while the poor cannot so it goes to the recycler. From experience I have found that most recyclers will not allow Reuse because of several reasons mainly doing with their company/insurance rules and effort. If there was a step in the Recycling process for people to easily practice reuse it would naturally happen when profitable. For instance, if I have a 4 year old computer that can use a CPU (no longer being manufactured) at a recycler that will make my computer a little faster. To the recycler there it may be worth a dollar in scrap (being generous) and to me it is worth a few dollars. Logic dictates that the recycler would be better off to sell me that part than to recycle it. Since I cannot afford a new computer (therefore no loss to manufacturers), I benefit from a better computer that can run better software which may also need me to buy new upgrade parts (video, memory, MB, HD) I could afford to buy and this will stimulate the US economy (for I cannot afford to spend $100's-$1000's for brand new but can could afford $10's). Without reuse, I would hold on to my old computer as is and stagnate technologically. Then after a while, after I was done with that reuse part, the recycler would get it back. No, most recyclers ship it OCONUS where it may come back as counterfeits, melted down , or stays over there and used to save other countries money. In essence recycling without reuse in the US is raising technology costs to the US poor, hurting upgrade parts sales, and reducing the need for repair jobs.
Because of the push of the technology advances, many a "Still working good" electronics devices are termed obsolete and thrown in the dumpyards. In developed nations this trend has become very common. Where as the people in the third world languish for want of such devices and gadets. The US govt should encourage the export of such working gadgets and devices to the third world countries where such devices will find many years of reuse without consigning them to the junkyards. The recycling should happen only for the damaged and non working electronic and electrical goods.
But I think we all will have to blame ourselves if reuse is not happening. How many of us try to repair our cellphone when it dies? I have seen everybody either dumps phone in recycle bin (green) and buy a new one or exchange it for a new one. In either case I don't see a reuse! I have seen some cases where refurbished phones are available but then that is a different market (grey).
I once tried doing 'reusing my phone' by giving my 2 year old phone to my driver ..... guess what he did .... he exchanged it for a new phone. So if we have to reuse we will have to keep using our old phone ourselves and everybody around us will have spanking new smart phones or something newer and we will be called 'outdated' !
Will some company come forward to really put in infrastructure to take all the old electronics and make a new one ..... I think 'no'.
just a thought : So if there is a rule where all manufacturers may have a responsible department to upgrade any old model they manufactured (large scale) in past with minimal usage of new components .... hmm.... upto some percentage things might work. so obviously as the title says it will boost job market .... yes.
Again another recycling program being suggested by the big boys that mainly benefit them and it ends there. If one is truly in to living "green" then one should practice the 3R's (or 4R's) of Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle. "Green" to electronics manufacturers is 1R, which is Recycle. Electronics manufactures might practice some Reduce if it saves them money. Reuse is a problem because "Reuse" means not buying new products to the manufactures' thinking so many manufactures want to skip that step and go straight to Recycling (i.e. scrapping). The problem is some E-waste is still usable (Alas, as attested by the Reuse practiced by counterfeiters) and should be reused by people in the US before recycling. If an electronic product is totally utilized to the end of their useful life then chances are the E-waste would not still be useable to counterfeiters due to obsolescence. The "easy way" (wanted by manufactures) is to make sure no counterfeiters or people can get their hands on anything is by destroying it here in the US in certified recycling station. This is given the guise of creating green jobs, but this may be another example of the "broken window fallacy" where jobs and benefits are lost elsewhere if Reuse was continued or instituted properly. The proper Reuse of used/functional/repairable E-waste is by the poor. Not every person in an economy can walk in the front door of a big box store and pay full price. There is a portion in the US, say 25%, that if they cannot buy it used or repair it, will not have one. If manufacturer suggested recycle programs are allowed to take used/repairable electronics products and deem them E-waste, the poor in the US mainly suffer and this may create even a greater digital divide. This is why I recommend that most used/repairable electronics need to be cycled through the poor before it is truly deemed as E-waste. This to some "green" people is considered wasteful, but this could create even more diverse Reuse "green" jobs than straight Recycling programs being currently suggested.
Thanks for sharing the info. From what's currently being done, what are the benefits for companies to recycle? ... they can get gold from the circuit boards (in large quantities), what other things can be obtained from the process?
EBN Dialogue enables and encourages you to participate in live chats with notable leaders and luminaries. Not only editors and journalists, but the entire EBN community is able to comment and ask questions. Listed below are upcoming and archived chats.
Thailand Stages a Comeback Join EBN contributor Jennifer Baljko on Thursday August 23, 2012, at 11:00 a.m. EST for a live chat on how electronic manufacturers in Thailand have shored up their supply chain to reduce the impact of future natural disasters.
Microsoft Surface: Potential Winners & Losers What are the implications for the electronics industry supply chain of Microsoft Corp.'s decision to launch its own tablet PC? Join industry veteran and EE Times' systems and OEM expert Rick Merritt on Tuesday, July 3, at 12:00 pm EDT for a Live Chat on this subject.
Join EBN contributor Jennifer Baljko on Thursday August 23, 2012, at 11:00 a.m. EST for a live chat on how electronic manufacturers in Thailand have shored up their supply chain to reduce the impact of future natural disasters.
Peter Drucker famously said "Trying to predict the future is like trying to drive down a country road at night with no lights while looking out the back window." Yet in the razor's-edge world of electronics—with a lean supply chain and just-in-time demands—the need to know the future is vital.
You've heard the saying "the No. 1 supply chain risk is your people." That hasn't always been the case. But today's complex global supply chain requires a new type of multitalented employee. It's one who understands, finance, marketing, economics, is savvy with technology, graceful with relationships and can think analytically.
Where are these people? Are universities properly preparing the next generation supply chain professionals? How do train your existing workforce for these new, demanding positions?
Brian Fuller, editor-in-chief of EBN, will lead a 60-minute Avnet Velocity panel discussion that will ask and answer these and other questions swirling around today's supply-chain talent challenges.