I really enjoyed reading this article, because in it there’s some discussion about the wide range of products, each with their own design, completely non-standard, and in my mind sometimes unnecessarily diverse. Because of this variety, it is very difficult to viably recover the materials from them, and a lot of effort is needed. I don’t think the author advocates stifling industry, but I do think that there is a point to be made about designing willy-nilly and for no reason.
Here is a quote to whet your appetite:
One of these facilities recycled fridges and freezers, and I was struck by the variety of models being processed. Every single appliance was different. This meant that every time a disassembler tried to get the valuable compressor out from the back of a fridge before it was crushed, a new set of challenges arose, with different sizes and types of screws, fittings and frames all blocking the way. It made me think that if fridge designers were to work alongside disassemblers, they would see with their own eyes the problems inherent in their designs. Perhaps we would have better fridges and better designers as a result.
Another example, and this is less about recycling, and more about just a pet peeve of mine, how many different types of button batteries are there? Why is this? Obviously people don’t make buying decisions based on the battery that is buried deep within the guts of a throw-away product, but I still think that it’s unnecessary for companies to just dream up a new button battery when there are so many already commercially available.
Back to recycling – I’m hugely in favour of going the next step and getting designers to really think about the way their products will be pulled apart. This, to me, is akin to when auto makers were designing engine blocks, and once upon a time, no thought was given to the lowly oil filter and where it was positioned. Now in most modern cars they are reasonably accessible, thanks to one or two thought leaders figuring out how much mechanics and consumers would appreciate having the filter in easy reach. I have read of some excellent examples of design changes that adapt for easy dis-assembly, but I don’t have them at my fingertips just now. The best I can think of is the disassembly of a PC. I read about one that just had a few screws and then basically came apart by un-clipping most of the components.
More of that, please.