Thursday, June 25, 2009

Repair is a greener solution than e-waste recycling

Weee Man...Image by law_keven via Flickr

It is the fashion these days to show concern with the state of the environment. Rampant use of the Earth's resources have wreaked havoc on the environment. Pollution has become a by-product of manufacturing activities.

To save the environment one of the solutions being implemented is recycling of materials from electronic waste.

The activity of recycling is a process which involves four steps:
  1. Collection of discarded products
  2. Processing: Extracting the materials from the e-waste and sorting the materials into homogeneous types.
  3. Manufacturing: Using the extracted materials in the production of new products.
  4. Purchase: Manufacturers market the products and the consumers purchase the products made from recycled materials.
As we can see manufacturing is the third step in the recycling process. But the bottom line is recycling has been made an adjunct to the manufacturing system and encourages the throw-away attitude among the consumers towards electronic products. The sooner the consumers allow their old appliances to be taken to the recycling plants the easier will it be for them to decide to buy new appliances.

And so we suspect behind all these a strategy of planned obsolescence which may be seen as artificial and intended to shorten the natural lifetime of electronic products.

On the other hand, repair and restoration of electronics products encourages reuse which reduces the need to manufacture new products as replacements. The reduction in production requirements would also reduce pollution that may arise from the manufacturing process.

Product repair also gives the customer the option to delay purchase on new appliances and earn savings.

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