This is actually a very important argument AGAINST lead free electronics. The higher melting point of lead free solder combined with copper migration of the acual copper laminate mean that lead free products are almost unserviceable. I can pull an IC off a PCB and replace it around 10 times before the board starts to wear out, yet lead free typically fails at the first or second attempt to rework. I too don't like trashing equipment that has given a few good years of service and then dies, but that ideology is being made near impossible by European legislation that is causing a global move to lead free.
The guys over at iFixit, who sell a repair kit so that you can fix your own electronic devices rather than throwing away (or sending them back to the manufacturer for repair at an astronomical price have a huge goal: To eliminate all electronics waste. Aggressive, yes, but I think these guys have got it right.
"Even modern diesel engines make nanoscale particles of carbon compared to the 15-40um particles of older diesels. It's so fine that there's talk of lung cancer being an issue because it penetrates so deeply into the lungs. "
This the first I've heard of modern diesel engines putting out nanoscale carbon particles. Do you have a link to anything that talks about this?
As you are probably aware in Europe we have regulations on recycling of electrical and electronics equipent (WEEE) and high charges for landfill to try and drive recycling.
However, the high cost of responsible recycling in Europe has contributed to the phenomenon of "off-shoring" of electronic disposal with containers of waste equipment being shipped around the globe to such places as Nigeria, India and China.....where unregulated "recycling" of hazardous materials has been done in very hazardous conditions. At the same time some unscrupulous people try to "mine" for valuable western bank account details on the disk drives of these broken PCs.
Just as we increasingly shred paper documents from banks etc to try and protect our online identities it is become increasingly important to put a hammer through any disk drives that may contain sensitive information because who knows who will be assessing it once you throw the equipment out.
While there has been some focus on work practices during the making of consumer electronics (in China and elsewhere) there also needs to an emphasis on the end-of-life processes.
Good point, Peter. You know HP and some other companies provide "return" boxes with cartridges for large office printers. I think that makes sense in that kind of situation. HP actually refills those, and sell them again, like Coke used to do with soda bottles.
But you're right, companies come and go. So I think there should be recycling stations where you can drop of used electronics. This is getting to be a cottage industry in many areas now, because some business owners realized they can make a buck off it. I'd like to see a more organized effort where consumers would receive an incentive to turn in used goods, and retailers would profit from turning them over to a recycler.
Honestly, I wouldn't mind paying a small levy if it helped keep my toxic junk out of a landfill.
I agree that a disposal levy is a good idea.
I wonder how it would work if users were also allowed to mail back unwanted goods to the original vendor at the vendor's expense.
I suspect that would produce a different design behaviour and focus on recyclability of materials at the company.
However because companies go bust, get bought this has to operate alongside a levy to pay for cases where there is no one to send the goods to.
I think we're way past the time when the eletronics industry should face the same requirement as, say, the tire industry: provide money to dispose of products at the end of their lives, just as we're charged a federal tax on tires to help pay for their disposal. We just can use stuff and dump it after each product cycle -- it' s suicide.
Do you think it would be reasonable to have a 0.5 percent excise tax on all electronics to help pay for their safe disposal when their lie is over?