Remember this picture of my plastic waste from Week 35? Remember my rant about the HP monitor that couldn’t be fixed and how HP makes products that have to be replaced rather than repaired? I ranted here. I ranted on the Californians Against Waste site. I ranted in emails to HP. And then I found out about The Electronics Take Back Coalition (http://www.computertakeback.com).
The Electronics Take Back Coalition is a national coalition of environmental and consumer groups who promote green design and responsible recycling in the consumer electronics industry. They have several strategies, including:
- Promoting legislation to require manufacturers to take back and recycle our old electronics
- Using direct public pressure on manufacturers to offer responsible recycling programs to their customers, and to adopt green design principles.
- Working with institutional purchasers to amplify the demand for green products.
- Promoting recyclers who adhere to responsible electronics recycling practices and exposing the impacts of low-road recycling, including the exporting of e-waste to poor countries around the world.
- They are currently campaigning to get TV companies (www.takebackmytv.com) to offer free TV recycling, as many TVs will become obsolete when HD becomes the standard.
All this is great. It’s a good step. But I didn’t want to recycle my monitor. I wanted to be able to fix it and keep using it. So I wrote to the Coalition to ask if they are addressing the issue of planned obsolescence of electronics and the inability to repair them rather than recycling, and I got a reponse back from Barbara Kyle, the National Coordinator:
We have focused on the recycling end of the e-waste problem. But we want to do more on promoting reuse, and green design concepts that allow us to hang on to our electronic products longer, and to upgrade them to keep up with advances in technology. So far, the industry has focused on energy as the primary criteria for “green design.” While we don’t disagree that energy use by the product is important, the energy used to create new products is even more significant, and could be reduced if our products simply lasted longer.
We want dead gadget stories!
We would love to receive stories just like the one you documented on your blog, showing clearly how products simply can’t be fixed or upgraded, because of clear choices made by the product designers.
Please send your stories to Stories@deadgadgets.com and include the following information:
- Make and model
- Year they bought it. Is it under warranty?
- Why it’s dead. (Doesn’t turn on, won’t reboot, can’t upgrade it to run certain software, etc)
- Steps taken to try to fix it, or cost to fix it. (Here’s where your story was incredibly compelling. You didn’t just say your monitor died – you found someone who tried to fix it, identified the part needed, made the call, and then was rebuffed. So asking your readers to fill in this part would be great. Making the call to get an estimate on what it would cost to fix it (vs replace it) is good. But actually getting the company to say they WON’T sell you a replacement part gets to the heart of the issue. So that’s an extra step, but if you could ask them to document this, it will help us tell this story. Feel free to include whom they spoke with at the companies, so there can be no question of misunderstanding.)
- Picture of the dead gadget. (Be sure we can see the manufacturer name or logo!) For our dead gadget gallery (soon to come).
This request includes broken TELEVISIONS, not just computer-type devices.
Barbara also added that if there are any serious reuse and upgrade geeks out here, she’d love to talk to them in more detail about how they could do a more thorough “study” of this issue, trends they see with different companies, etc.
So if you’ve suffered similar frustrations to what I have, please, please, please take a minute to send your story to Stories@deadgadgets.com and help persuade companies to take responsbility for the products they release into the world.
OH! And if you’re a blogger, please post this request on your blog! Let’s make it viral!