Device repairability and planned obsolescence - Greenpeace campaign

Discussion in 'Hardware' started by RT545, Jun 28, 2017.

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  1. RT545

    RT545 Scribbler - Standard Member

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    A campaign has been launched by Greenpeace about planned obsolescence and reparability of the devices:

    With the help of ifixit, they give a classification of the reparability of the tablets, notebooks and smartphones of different brands:

    https://www.rethink-it.org/
    You can classify the reparability score results by "best to worst", by "device type" (smartphone, tablet, laptop), and by "brand".

    For example:
    HP elite X2 1012 G1: 10/10
    Apple iPad 5: 2/10
    MS Surface pro 5: 1/10

    Ok, the members of the forums here already have an idea of this kind of classification by following the info given on ifixit;

    But this is interesting to see this appear as a Greenpeace campaign about planned obsolescence...

    Greenpeace says: "Apple, Samsung and Microsoft are among the least easy to repair"

    http://www.greenpeace.org/international/en/press/releases/2017/Apple-Samsung-products-among-least-repairable-Greenpeace-assessment-of-tech-brands/
     
    Last edited: Jun 28, 2017
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  2. RT545

    RT545 Scribbler - Standard Member

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    By the way, a comment on the ifixit website about the reparability of the new surface laptop:

    "Verdict: The Surface Laptop is not a laptop. It’s a glue-filled monstrosity. There is nothing about it that is upgradable or long-lasting, and it literally can’t be opened without destroying it. (Show us the procedure, Microsoft, we’d love to be wrong.)"

    https://fr.ifixit.com/Teardown/Microsoft+Surface+Laptop+Teardown/92915
     
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  3. sitongia

    sitongia Scribbler - Standard Member

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    This is an interesting post. It's good to hear about that campaign. Thank you.

    A related topic is the legality of repairing. It's amazing that there are cases in which it is not currently legal to open and repair a device you own. Motherboard covers this well. They have an article about the US Copyright office moving toward removing these legal barriers.
     
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  4. RT545

    RT545 Scribbler - Standard Member

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    Your link is interesting also! I am not certain that they will authorize to hack into the software in order to repair; but at least permitting to upgrade the harddisk, change the battery, replace the screen, and all those obvious components that sometimes become defective "on purpose" to make you re-spend your money, would be a start!
     
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  5. thatcomicsguy

    thatcomicsguy Pen Pro - Senior Member Senior Member

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    I won't buy anything which can't be opened up with a basic screw driver set. MS and Apple are in the business of making disposable bling.

    In a world where rare earth minerals are so difficult to come by, this is not just short sighted, but actually inexcusable since the manufacturers know exactly what they are doing and what effect it will have.

    But even that isn't entirely their fault; our current production/consumption system is the problem. Companies are punished for being responsible.

    This doesn't mean that there aren't solutions, and good ones! -My father spent many years as an electrical engineer working for Nortel, and he won a prestigious award for his efforts in designing product cycles which would allow for 100% recyclablility. -Nortel back in the 90's invested heavily in designing things like circuit boards and components which could be returned to a plant and be easily broken down again with a minimum of waste. He demonstrated that this could help the bottom line. But the project also showed that it would take forward thinking and lots of time and hard work to set up, so companies were reluctant to invest in that direction.

    If Apple and MS were to develop similar programs, where say, after a 2 or 3 year use period, you could return a phone or computer and receive a discount on the next product, then this would be a way to significantly promote customer loyalty, and the reclaimed materials could offset discovery costs. (There are certain minerals vital to the computer market which you can only dig up in China in the quantities required; that alone is a huge issue!)

    If the general production/consumption cycle were transformed so that everybody just naturally thought that way, that it was simply part of life to make sure that your old hardware was returned to source for disassembly, -and that companies naturally considered it normal and logical practice to create value from the reclamation of old technology, -designing it from the outset for easy processing down the road, the economy would no doubt continue ticking along just fine, and we'd all be a lot better off for it. I think, anyway.

    Sadly, humans just aren't that advanced a species.

    So for now, I'll just continue to buy products I can easily maintain myself.
     
    Last edited: Jun 28, 2017
  6. RT545

    RT545 Scribbler - Standard Member

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    True ecological conciousness here, congrats!

    Talking about a certain president who chose to withdraw from the Paris climate change agreement...

    There are laws in Europe about the recycling and disposal of electric and electronic waste

    http://ec.europa.eu/environment/waste/weee/index_en.htm
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Waste_Electrical_and_Electronic_Equipment_Directive

    and one part of the law is about the producer responsibility principle

    http://ec.europa.eu/environment/waste/weee/pdf/final_rep_okopol.pdf

    I am not certain that this is always very well enforced, unfortunately...
     
  7. Bronsky

    Bronsky Wait and Hope. Senior Member

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    Believe it or not, we have laws here in the US requiring the recycling of electronic equipment. In large part, they are ignored. I suspect that our concept of recycling is to pack large loads of obsolete electronics off to some third world country and let their workers deal with the dismantling and disposal of our technology.

    Before I was a full time tablet user, I always looked for notebooks that permitted self upgrading and modification. Harder to do with tablets.
     
  8. convergent

    convergent Scribbler - Standard Member

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    I am not a fan of Greenpeace and assume there is some political agenda here. Especially when you consider how "green" Apple is trying to be, to the point of having a whole system they built to dismantle expired iPhones and turn them into reusable resources. Yet, GP has attacked them badly in this campaign. The way electronics are going, someone should make a giant blender that breaks them down and then separates out the elements.

    I think there is as big or bigger a problem with packaging. Apple is not great with this. Instead of using cardboard that can easily be broken down and taken the recycle station, they are gluing plastic and stuff in the boxes to make it harder, as well as the volume of packaging. Some companies are worse than others. I like Amazon's "basics" packaging which is just pure brown cardboard.

    A friend of mind years ago had a great suggestion that could make real change with waste if anyone wanted change instead of political agendas to raise funding with. His idea was that any company that produces any product, including all its packaging, would have to receive back and dispose of an equal amount of materials. So they take back all the packaging and the dead products at the end of their life. This would put the cost on the producer of disposal, so they would get a lot smarter about how and what they produce... especially regarding excessive packaging.
     
  9. Bronsky

    Bronsky Wait and Hope. Senior Member

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    Your friend was way ahead of his time. There are legislative efforts to do just that: make manufacturers responsible for their packaging.
     
  10. kvoram

    kvoram Scribbler - Standard Member Senior Member

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    For me there are two reasons why I mostly stopped being an early adopter.

    First, whenever I buy something I do consider the value of what I am getting for my money. I pay premium only if I don't just get "some" premium feature(s) but more importantly premium quality. And for me that doesn't mean "bling" but well-made hardware built to last including repairability AND software/firmware without bugs. Unfortunately that's where the whole consumer electronics industry has gone down the drain. Now most manufacturer's mantra is "ship first, fix later". I think consumers as a whole need to be a lot more unruly against those things and more importantly speak with their wallet instead of giving in because they simply "want" whatever thingy.
    Don't get me wrong, occasionally I find myself guilty as well of buying stuff instead of resisting but we ought to think twice about this more often.

    Second, it is quite satisfying to buy something that is maybe partially broken and fixing it yourself. I don't have the electronics skills or equipment to fix everything but there is a good amount of stuff that I managed to repair. Great for the environment and also my wallet. The feeling is even better when people thank you for fixing their stuff. Even if it's just buying something used, knowing to breathe some more life into something instead of bringing more "stuff" into the world fells good as well. Of course this is a limited approach since there first needs to be some new stuff for technological progress etc.

    But overall I too have a strong sentiment against buying stuff that cannot be fixed easily.

    In general, we are a living in a vicious circle where consumers, manufacturers/retailers and the media are pushing each other into always making and buying new stuff and disposing of old stuff regardless of logical reasons and actually useful progress.
     
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