I always love the simple ideas, you know the one where you think ‘why hasn’t this been done already?’. Well how about a laptop that can be dismantled easily by the user and the various components recycled as appropriate.
A team of students from Stanford and Aalto University in Finland have designed a prototype for a laptop that can be disassembled easily so the electronic components can go into an envelope for mailing to an e-cycling program and the rest can go into the household recycling bin. As if that wasn’t cool enough, all of this can be done without any tools in a couple of minutes. I think I’d be so tempted to be fiddling with the thing all day I’d never get any work done! You could do it blindfold too – just like the tough guys do with their machine guns in the movies…
Although I’m taking a light hearted view on this, the potential here is amazing. E-waste is one of the areas of IT that seems to be constantly overlooked as we strive for more on the productivity side of things. No one seems to care about what happens to all our IT junk once it is no longer of use. The ‘End of life process’ as it is cheerily named, simply fails because of a huge gap between us as consumers and IT using businesses, and the recycling companies. Sure there are now schemes for taking back old PCs and servers, but it just isn’t easy enough. Consequently this e-waste either piles up in the garage (come on, own up now) or gets shipped to landfill.
It’s a shame to think that our customer’s desktops, having been managed for PC Power Management through their entire lives, and having saved tons of carbon emissions in the process, may go on to end up in a dump somewhere in the developing world (which is where a lot of our tech waste ends up). Imaging however if you could simply call up a company who would come along and dismantle your PCs, retain bits that were still usable and just slot in some new bits before disposing safely of the old ones. And data centers could potentially reap the benefits of servers and other kit that could be disassembled in the same way.
This innovation is quite timely too as Pete Foster reports today that last Thursday the European Parliament voted to press ahead with plans to tighten up the rules on waste electronic and electrical equipment (WEEE). They also want to make the rules simpler and introduce tougher measures to prevent the export of e-waste to developing countries.
I hope that this means that we are moving in the right direction on this important issue. As Karl-Heinz Florenz (EPP, DE), who steered the draft legislation through the EU Parliament, commented – “we can no longer afford to waste our waste.”