Manufacturers are pushing the envelope to smarten up our products—whether those products need to be smart or not. Just because we can connect things to the Internet doesn’t mean we should. After visiting CES, it taught me that I don’t enjoy shouting at my appliances by a first name: “Alexa, brew my coffee,” “Alexa, buy me detergent,” “Alexa, bake the salmon.” It makes me feel like a lazy overlord—and I’m still not convinced of its wider usefulness. All the same, CES featured just that, and tons of other Alexa-powered products.
Last month U.S. Rep. Paul Cook of California introduced the “Secure E-Waste and Export Act” to prevent counterfeit parts from making their way into U.S. military hardware. The bill will ban the export of all used, non-working electronics from the United States. But China is already one of the world’s biggest generators of e-waste, so it’s difficult to see how this will make any difference. It’s an unnecessary bill. But it’s also an environmentally destructive piece of legislation.
iFixit’s pretty fond of this big blue marble that we call home. We’re also pretty fond of electronics. So, in honor of Earth Day, here’s four really easy things you can do to save the earth—and save your electronics from the landfill too. What’s the big deal about electronics, you might ask? By weight, electronics require far more resources than any other product. So it makes sense to keep electronics around for as long as possible.
This Earth Day we’re partnering with those cool cats at Kuttlefish to challenge you to turn your e-waste into something extraordinary. So grab those old USB cables, busted MP3 players, and dusty printers—then channel your inner MacGyver and upcycle away! You could have a shot at winning an All-new Pro Tech Toolkit, a 64 Bit Driver Kit, iFixit t-shirts, or a gift card from Kuttlefish.
On Monday, Apple held one of its regular keynotes—an event usually dedicated to new products and upgraded specs. But Apple execs led the event with something a little different this time: its new recycling robot, Liam. So, what’s our take on the new disassembly superpower? Our co-founder Kyle Wiens recently published an article with Wired.com—breaking down why Liam is a step forward, and how the recycling robot is likely to fall short.
It’s our mission to teach the world how to repair everything they own. But a successful repair often hinges on consumers having access to quality replacement parts. And all too often the right parts just aren’t available—to anyone. No part, no repair. No longer. iFixit is partnering with ERI—the largest recycler of electronic waste in the world—to make repair possible for gadgets of all kinds. Together, we’re working to keep as many electronics as possible in use and out of landfills.
According to a new EPA report, Americans increased their overall production of municipal waste in 2013 to 254 million tons of waste—or 4.4 pounds per person per day. But e-waste was one of the few categories where recycling rates increased significantly—by ten percentage points in just one year. So, good job everyone: fewer electronics are winding up in the trash heaps. But we’re not done yet. Recycling is just one piece of the larger moving puzzle that is sustainable resource management.
The federal government just dropped EPEAT from its green electronics standards. The policy change—made without warning—was part of an updated executive order issued last month, which simply omitted EPEAT from the government’s previous language. When it comes to evaluating a device’s effect on the environment, EPEAT is the gold standard. The tool ranks products as either Gold, Silver, or Bronze—depending on adherence to a set of green criteria. No word if another standard will take its place.
Just how much e-waste is piling it up around the globe? A new infographic from CustomMade breaks down the good, the bad, and the deadly. According to CustomMade, “the global volume of refrigerators, TVs, cellphones, computers, monitors, and other electronic waste will weigh almost as much as 200 Empire State Buildings”—evidence that our existing “out of sight, out of mind” mentality really isn’t a viable long-term option when it comes to e-waste.
If you’ve ever been at the tail end of a line full of cranky, frenzied, mashed-potato-fueled Black Friday shoppers, you know: we’re a consumer society. Even after the holidays, exorbitant consumption is a year-round phenomenon—especially when it comes to electronics. But why is the allure of buying so irresistible—even if we don’t really need anything? If money burns a hole in our collective pockets, who exactly is fanning the flames? Meet the men whose job it is to make us spend.
Christmas is the high-water mark of new stuff—and a lot of that new stuff is going to be electronic. As Wired’s Christina Bonnington pointed out yesterday, the mounting influx of shiny, thin devices is an environmental catastrophe just waiting to happen. E-waste is the fastest growing waste stream in the world. If we’ve got any shot at meeting the e-waste challenge head-on, manufacturers are going to have to start giving a product’s end-of-life a lot more consideration.
The post-Christmas season is an e-waste high water mark in the United States. New computers, phone docks, wireless speakers, and watches under the Christmas tree crowd out the old(er) ones. What isn’t donated or recycled usually makes its way to the trash. And a recent study by the United Nations University and MIT has details on just how high our e-trash hoard is getting.