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Recent News

  • Rewritable paper goes technicolor
    The paper industry has a significant environmental impact, from cutting down trees for raw material to consuming large amounts of energy and water to process that material. To curb that impact, chemists have been working on rewritable paper technologies that would allow people to print on a sheet of paper with special inks and then erase them to reuse the paper. Source: Chemical & Engineering News, 1/9/18
  • The Hellish E-Waste Graveyards Where Computers Are Mined for Metal
    Each year the planet generates some 50 million tons of electronic waste, ranging from batteries to mobile phones to light-up children's toys. And although such devices may have been discarded, they're not without value--the United Nations recently estimated the total worth of all that e-waste at $55 billion, thanks largely to the trace amounts of gold, silver, and other metals they contain. The problem, though, is getting them out. German photographer Kai Löffelbein spent seven years documenting how those metals are extracted, often under dangerous conditions, by some of the world's poorest people. His forthcoming book, CTRL-X: A Topography of E-Waste, contains photographs he took in Ghana, China, and India, where much of the world's e-waste ends up. Source: Wired, 1/8/18
  • Dell and actress Nikki Reed want to turn your old laptop into gold jewelry
    Dell wants to do more than just encourage people to recycle old electronics -- it wants to re-use their valuable metals in new Dell products and more. To draw attention to these efforts, it's teaming up with actress Nikki Reed and her eco-friendly Bayou with Love brand, which she co-founded last year, to create a jewelry line completely sourced from the recycled electronics that Dell collects. Among the items that will be created include 14- and 18-carat gold rings, cufflinks, and earrings. The products, on sale today, will be sold directly from the Bayou with Love website. Pricing will range from $78 for a gold ball ring to $348 for a pair of cufflinks. The items are also fully made of gold and are not simply gold-plated. According to Dell, it will take approximately six motherboards to produce a single piece of jewelry. In addition to providing the gold, Dell will also be assisting the company with communication and marketing support as part of its Dell Small Business advisory program. In addition to using recycled materials for jewelry, Dell will also be applying some of the gold it recycles into new motherboards for its Latitude 5285 computers shipping in March, which it claims will be a computer industry first. Source: USA Today, 1/9/18
  • NYS offers $3M in grants for e-waste costs
    Over the course of six years, more than 260,000 tons of e-waste has been collected by and recycled under the State Electronic Equipment Recycling and Reuse Act. That amounts to more than 520 million pounds from 2011 through 2016, a press release from the State Department of Environmental Conservation said. And now, the state has made $3 million in grant funding available from its Environmental Protection Fund to help municipalities address the unintended costs associated with the collection and recycling of eligible e-waste. Source: Press Republican, 12/20/17
  • It's Not You, It's Your Battery--Apple Confirms iOS Update Slows Performance
    iFixit weighs in on the recent news regarding Apple's old iPhone performance slow down, presenting the results of performance tests on older phones before and after battery replacement. Source: iFixit.org, 12/20/17
  • Apple Says It Slows Older iPhones To Save Their Battery Life
    Confirming iPhone owners' suspicions that Apple purposefully slows the operation of older phones, Apple says that it does just that -- and that slowing down processors makes it easier for old batteries to perform after they've begun to lose capacity. But some customers say the company's strategy of dealing with the power demand pushes them to replace their older iPhones with newer models. Source: NPR, 12/21/17
  • For dead EV batteries, reuse comes before recycle
    Automakers and e-waste recyclers find new uses for electric vehicle batteries when their on-road service life ends. Source: Roadshow by CNET, 12/5/17
  • Quantifying carbon offsets in refurb and reuse
    A Canadian ITAD firm has brought the concept of carbon credits into the refurbishment realm as a way of offsetting the carbon impact associated with purchasing new IT equipment. Compugen, a major IT service provider in Canada, launched a refurbishment arm a decade ago called Compugen Finance. It offers ITAD services to Compugen's customers, including large enterprise clients such as banks, insurance companies, law firms and more. Three months ago, Compugen Finance began offering carbon credits to companies supplying the ITAD division with retired assets. The idea is that there are carbon emissions associated with manufacturing new equipment, so by sending equipment to reuse and repair channels, a company helps cuts down on emissions in the future. Source: E-scrap News, 11/30/17
  • Going circular
    Technology manufacturers are increasingly being encouraged to think about the circular economy -- the concept that materials and goods should be kept in circulation for longer rather than follow the traditional 'linear' model of make, sell, use, then dispose. Industrial design and better engineering are the keys to making this happen. But it is also fair to say that the sector is under increasing scrutiny as electronics continue to proliferate. NGOs, such as Greenpeace, ifixit and the Restart programme, as well as Government itself, are becoming increasingly vocal in expecting industry to respond positively to this agenda. Source: New Electronics, 11/16/17
  • Report Reveals Tech Industry Giants Failing to Keep Child Labor Out of Cobalt Supply Chains
    Cobalt is back in the news, as a new report from Amnesty International reveals that tech industry giants such as Microsoft, Lenovo, Renault and Vodafone aren't doing enough to keep child labor out of cobalt battery supply chains in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and China. The findings come almost two years after Amnesty exposed a link between batteries used in their products and child labor. Time to Recharge ranks industry leaders, including Apple, Samsung SDI, Dell, Microsoft, BMW, Renault, Vodafone and Tesla according to improvements to their cobalt-sourcing practices since January 2016. The 108-page report revealed that only a handful of companies made progress, with many failing to take even basic steps, such as investigating supply links in the DRC. Source: Sustainable Brands, 11/15/17
  • Device refurbishers assess critical issues
    Nearly 300 IT product refurbishing experts convened in New Orleans this week to consider industry trends and to address barriers to growth. The event was the 14th annual Electronics Reuse Conference, now operated by the consulting firm E-Reuse Services. Source: E-scrap News, 11/2/17
  • iPhone X Release: The Human Cost of Apple's Most Expensive IPhone Ever
    Ten years of metronomic iPhone launches has not muted the mania surrounding the release of the iPhone X--dubbed by Apple as "the future of the smartphone." But beneath the din of delayed deliveries and overpriced devices are resurfacing allegations of human rights violations at supplier factories, including worker protests and abuse. Source: Newsweek, 11/3/17
  • China's recyclers eye looming electric vehicle battery mountain
    After years of dismantling discarded televisions and laptops, a Shanghai recycling plant is readying itself for a new wave of waste: piles of exhausted batteries from the surge of electric vehicles hitting China's streets. The plant has secured licenses and is undergoing upgrades to handle a fast-growing mountain of battery waste, said Li Yingzhe, a manager at the facility, run by the state-owned Shanghai Jinqiao Group. Source: Reuters, 10/22/17
  • Amazon, Microsoft and Google get low grades on recycling policy from Greenpeace
    In a report from Greenpeace, Amazon, Google, Microsoft and Samsung all received low grades in the area of resource consumption. Fairphone received the highest grade, followed by Dell, HP, Apple and Lenovo. The organization also released a detailed report card, broken down into categories and sub-categories, explaining how it assigned rankings. Source: Waste Dive, 10/17/17
  • Apple made 2 simple changes to iPhone packaging that drastically cut the amount of plastic headed to the landfill
    Subtle changes in recent Apple packaging has significantly reduced the amount of plastic that ends up in the trash -- and most iPhone buyers probably didn't even notice. Apple was able to redesign iPhone 7 packaging to use 84% less plastic, the company revealed in a new report on its forestry operations. Source: Business Insider, 10/10/17
  • El-egg-tronics: how egg white could help us make transparent, flexible devices
    Materials scientists have found that egg white can be turned into a film-like substance that's perfect for making memory units. Researchers from Southwest University in China, led by Qunliang Song, showed that when egg white is mixed with hydrogen peroxide, a series of chemical reactions occur that allow the material to be turned into a film that can be used to make transparent, flexible resistive memory. Source: TechRadar, 9/29/17
  • French Lawsuit Takes on Printer Manufacturers and Planned Obsolescence
    Whether it has become the norm in the manufacturing of home appliances or smartphones, planned obsolescence is both bad for consumers and bad for the environment. The concept that products should be designed so they will become quickly unwanted or unusable has become the reality in many industries. A French legal organization, Halte à L'Obsolescence Programmêe (HOP), says it has seen enough of this trend, particularly when it comes to printer manufacturers. Recently, HOP filed a lawsuit in a local French court against some of the world's most widely-known brands. The lawsuit alleges that Brother, Canon, Epson and HP are amongst companies deliberately shortening the lifespan of both printers and cartridges. The litigation claims these companies' alleged business practice of manufacturing goods that purposefully stop working not long after their purchase violates a law French legislators passed in 2015. Source: Triple Pundit, 9/29/17
  • Welcome to the future, where your phone can fix its own smashed screen
    From self-healing phone screens to concrete that repairs itself, businesses are investing in futuristic materials. But can it curb our throwaway habits? Source: The Guardian, 8/30/17
  • EU body takes aim at planned obsolescence in devices
    A branch of the European Union is calling on stakeholders to improve the repairability of electronics and ferret out devices designed to have short lifespans. The European Parliament on July 4 voted to approve a resolution calling on the European Commission, member countries and producers to take steps to improve repairability. The resolution doesn't place any requirements into law. But it does signal the desire of the legislative body, which is directly elected by voters in each member country, to address the issue through future laws and voluntary programs. The parliament voted 662 to 32 to approve the resolution. The document seeks to have products built to last longer and made easier to repair. It suggests discouraging manufacturers from taking steps to prevent independent repair shops from making fixes, and it calls for spare parts to be made available. Among its long list of suggestions and requests, the document asks the European Commission, the EU's executive branch, to propose a EU-wide definition of planned obsolescence and to explore a system to test products for built-in obsolescence. It also calls for "better legal protection for 'whistleblowers' and appropriate dissuasive measures for producers." It addresses obsolescence for both hardware and software. Additionally, it calls on the commission to consider a voluntary labeling system informing consumers about a product's durability, eco-design features, upgradeability and repairability. Source: E-Scrap News, 7/13/17
  • States Grapple with Implementing E-Waste Recycling Laws
    Even though many of states are moving the needle forward on e-waste, some are running into barriers while working to implement these newly developed laws. Source: Waste360, 7/20/17
  • States Grapple with Implementing E-Waste Recycling Laws
    To date, 25 states and Washington, D.C., have electronics recycling laws, most of which are producer responsibility statutes. Illinois, Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Wisconsin and Minnesota are among those that have recently taken action to deal with fast-accumulating electronic waste. But even though many of these states are moving the needle forward, some are running into barriers while working to implement these newly developed laws. Source: Waste 360, 7/20/17
  • Lawmakers scramble to reform e-scrap program in Illinois
    Fearing a veto from the governor, Illinois stakeholders are attempting to iron out last-minute changes to legislation that would reshape the state's e-scrap law by requiring manufacturers to fund recycling of all covered material collected through the program. Following the successful passage of Senate Bill 1417 by both the state House and Senate late last month, lawmakers in Illinois have held back on sending the legislation to Gov. Bruce Rauner and have instead worked on a separate bill, HB 1955, to add several tweaks to the legislative overhaul. The changes, according to the Illinois Manufacturers Association (IMA), are aimed at appeasing concerns from the Illinois EPA that likely would have caused Gov. Rauner, a Republican, to veto the original legislation. The Consumer Technology Association (CTA) has also raised concerns about the bill. Source: E-scrap news, 6/29/17
  • HP Creates Social and Environmental Impact in Haiti with Launch of Ink Cartridges Made from Recycled Bottles
    HP has announced the launch of Original HP ink cartridges made with plastic from bottles recycled in Haiti. This joint initiative with Thread and the First Mile Coalition aims to improve the lives of the children who collect recyclable materials by providing them with educational opportunities, including scholarships, as well as full access to medical care and health and safety trainings. Source: CSR Wire, 6/15/17
  • American Chipmakers Had a Toxic Problem. Then They Outsourced It
    Twenty-five years ago, U.S. tech companies pledged to stop using chemicals that caused miscarriages and birth defects. They failed to ensure that their Asian suppliers did the same. Source: Bloomberg Businessweek, 6/15/17
  • 4 ways AI helps business protect the environment
    Growing global attention is leading to increasing regulations, deeper research and deployment of advanced sensing and mapping technologies. However, connecting the dots for better insights and solutions is difficult because the relevant information is often siloed, and decision makers are reluctant to act without a high degree of certainty. Today's complex supply chains make this an even tougher puzzle to unravel. Cognitive technology, enabled by artificial intelligence, or AI, is uniquely adapted to helping with these challenges, from finding patterns and interconnections within macro datasets to providing local, personalized diagnosis and predictions that learn and improve over time. With its ability to understand, reason and learn, cognitive technology is proving a great ally in protecting our planet in four key ways. Source: GreenBiz, 6/15/17
  • A more sustainable way to refine metals
    A team of chemists in Canada has developed a way to process metals without using toxic solvents and reagents. The system, which also consumes far less energy than conventional techniques, could greatly shrink the environmental impact of producing metals from raw materials or from post-consumer electronics. Source: McGill University, 6/7/17
  • U.S. Supreme Court to settle major cellphone privacy case
    Police officers for the first time could be required to obtain warrants to get data on the past locations of criminal suspects based on cellphone use under a major case on privacy rights in the digital age taken up by the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday. The justices agreed to hear an appeal by a man convicted in a series of armed robberies in Ohio and Michigan with the help of past cellphone location data who contends that without a warrant from a court such data amounts to an unreasonable search and seizure under the U.S. Constitution's Fourth Amendment. Source: Reuters, 6/5/17
  • Nevada processor pushes forward on unique e-scrap project
    A fertilizer and silver producer has begun processing scrap printed circuit boards to isolate precious metals. Reno, Nev.-based Itronics provided an update on its process this week, explaining it is using two furnaces to recover gold, silver, palladium, tin and copper from circuit boards. Publicly traded Itronics processes scrap electronics sourced from New2U Computers, a nonprofit computer repair and disassembly operation in neighboring Sparks, Nev. that employs about 130 people with disabilities. Source: E-scrap news, 5/25/17
  • Dell Says the Circular Economy Is Good for Business: Q&A with Michael Murphy
    At Dell, obsolete electronics are viewed as a resource rather than waste. In North America, the Dell Reconnect program with Goodwill Industries accepts computer equipment of any brand for refurbishment or recycling. Since 2008, the company reports that it has collected 1.6 billion pounds of electronics from its global take-back programs.

    Scaling up is essential, especially to meet aggressive goals for incorporating post-consumer recycled content (PCR) into products, according to Michael Murphy, vice president of global product compliance engineering and environmental affairs at Dell Technologies. Murphy will be talking about the circular economy at the 2017 Environmental Leader Conference in June. Recently Environmental Leader caught up with him to find out how the world's largest technology recycler is closing the loop. Source: Environmental Leader, 5/10/17

  • Food packaging gets smart -- and poses a recycling nightmare
    Use of electronics in packaging is on the rise, raising questions about the recyclability of everyday products. Source: The Guardian, 5/10/17