What do you do with obsolete electronics?

Think about the last remote or TV you’ve owned. How long did you have it for before replacing it? 3-4 years? 5-6 years? The average most people will tell you is about 4-5 years in fact before replacing a TV. I know because we ask at the store. But ask yourself, where does your TV go after you donate it or recycle it? Then ask yourself where do all of your other electronics go from kitchen electronics to media and entertainment centers. The truth is that most people don’t know what to do with the electronics or how to recycle them. Best Buy or stores like ours will take your electronics and recycle them but those processes are not perfected yet. It turns out that because of the way a lot of circuit boards are made and built into plastics that they’re super tough and time consuming to disassemble in such a way that makes sense for the recycling industry. As a result it’s a very difficult and expensive process.

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What’s being done about it?

There is a company at the forefront of computer and cell phone repair companies in Schaumburg like ours. They’re called iFixit working on something called the “Right to Repair.” That’s a fancy term to get manufactures to create products that are not only easy to repair (since we are all buying those iPhones and computers) but also easy to recycle.

Increasingly, companies create barriers in the form of proprietary black box software. Gordon-Byrne tells the story of a woman with a broken refrigerator who was able to identify which part had broken, procure the digital part, and successfully replace it—despite a lack of official documentation—only to be stymied by the need for a reset code. The only way to get the code? Paying for a technician to come out and enter it. Gordon-Byrne calls such practices “abusive.”

Taken from inthesetimes.com, this quote represents a lot of the feelings between small service companies, consumers, and manufacturing giants. They go on to talk about how the John Deere company technically never releases ownership of their products because they own the proprietary rights to the software that goes along with the machinery they sell. This concept is being exploited to the maximum benefit in legislature right now to protect and reward the giants who are using this technology. The consequences are very dire from a perspective of a global consequence knowing what harmful plastic chemicals can do to the air quality. Looking at the pictures in this article you can easily see technology from the 90s just sitting there not decomposing.

In addition, the net result of such restrictions is higher repair costs, fewer jobs and more toxic waste. As of 2011, Americans were generating 3.4 million tons of electronic waste annually, 75 percent of which wound up in incinerators, according to the EPA. Electronic waste is a toxic stew of more than 1,000 materials. A typical tube television includes up to 8 pounds of lead, according to the Electronics TakeBack Coalition. Newer flat screens have less lead, but more mercury. These chemicals contaminate soil and drinking water. If burned, they foul the air.

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disclaimer: we do not own any of these images, all image credits are to: http://www.greenpeace.org/international/en/news/features/e-waste-toxic-not-in-our-backyard210208/