Thursday, November 23, 2006

With the Biggest R You Have Ever Seen

High Tech Trash by Elizabeth Grossman is the definitive work on eWaste, and this interview from Worldchanging sheds some interesting light on the subject. eWaste isn't the easiest waste stream in the world to recycle; Grossman reports it can take up to 15 minutes to dismantle a single piece of equipment. And even when you get the thing dismantled, the techniques for reclamation are crude. Grossman thinks, as I do, that electronic recycling starts with Reduce, with a big fat R:

You have to figure out how you’re going to make products that never mind are just easier to dismantle and recycle, but also have longer lives, both physically and in terms of the technology; and being able to upgrade them so you don’t have to buy a whole new case every time you need something. And you have to actually make sure that you’re using not brand new virgin materials every time.

Although the book had had some criticism for being too general, I think it provides a nice overview of the topic and is certainly the most comprehensive work to date.

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