Alicia Donathan wrote:
I've heard mixed things about electronics recycling. Does anyone know if it's worth it, environmentally?
Chris Kott wrote:
Second, I would love it if what happened to PCs, where there was enough standardisation that people could assemble their own PCs from components available off the shelf, would happen for smartphones, electric cars, and virtually any other electronics we use. If everything was modular, swappable, and designed for disassembly and upgrading, these products, from largest to smallest, could be customised and repaired, and individual components, which might also be repaired, can be swapped out when necessary. Those individual components could be fixed or recycled, and only those components, meaning that much less will make it into even the recycling stream, should people be able to, say, buy a smartphone body they like and can keep as they upgrade it over the years.
Of course, we need to modify the planned obsolescence part of the consumerist culture to include these things, which requires a shift (that I hope is already underway) away from the mentality that we can have constant, unrestrained growth in a finite system like our planet.
It costs money to landfill garbage. It costs money to recycle, in the short term, more money than landfilling. I think we need municipal governments to turn it around, ban non-recyclables, fund local, environmentally and socially responsible, job-creating recycling jobs that, as a byproduct of efficiency and cradle-to-cradle planning, produce higher-grade recycled materials. If their focus was broadened to include the whole system, recycling becomes the cheapest, best option over the whole term.