A recent report carried out by Material Focus resulted in some astounding and deeply concerning statistics. UK households and businesses alone produce 1.45 million tonnes of electrical waste a year and un-recycled household electricals cost over £370m a year in lost materials like gold, copper, aluminium and steel. Imagine this on a global scale and you get a stark picture of just how much of a problem mounting electronic waste is. Why?
Because mining metals causes pollution and impacts weightily on climate change. Toxic materials ending up in landfill leach into water courses, soil and air and become a huge long-term problem in the environment.
The recent coronavirus pandemic is in the process of kick starting a global recession. History has shown us that during these times of hardship in the past, consumers have been encouraged to spend, spend, spend and get the economy going again.
But considering this research, we ask is that really the right or the responsible approach?
We don’t need more of the same old stuff!
In reality, what we need is the ability to buy products that are made with reclaimed material and more easily repairable in the first instance, but failing that, are made easier to recycle at the end of their life. As consumers we have a right to consume, but also a duty to be considerate consumers and effective recyclers.
There are ways that help could be at hand here. Supporting local repair services and repair cafes will assist in tackling the mounting issue of global e-waste. Imagine if those forced into unemployment during the pandemic could upskill and utilise government apprenticeship schemes to learn how products work with a view of offering a fixing service to the product users. This kind of scenario would encourage employment and tackle the issue of e-waste head on.
Manufacturers could play their part and keep stock of spare parts, making these readily available to the ‘fixers’. Designers too have their part to play by creating new products with repair in mind; considering the ease of disassembly, material separation for recycling and intuitiveness to fix.
It might all sound rather idealistic but with so many points of intervention in the materials economy, if we all take a moment to unite and look at the part we play in it, we can see where we can be a part of the solution too.
Out of sight, out of mind is not a way to deal with this problem. The coronavirus outbreak has created its fair share of tragedy but we can also see it as a catalyst for positive change and a vital opportunity to reset our relationship with our planet.
If you've got an idea for a great new product and want to consider how it can be designed with the right to repair in mind, we will assist you through your journey. Even the most accomplished will require assistance which is where our expertise is invaluable. We work closely with all our clients to ensure they have all the support they need.
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