How to reduce hi-tech garbage?
The world has already gone into a state of over production. If we do not suppress it, the world resource will be consumed in a manner of waste. Our next generation will be suffering from our nowadays ignorant. The speed of tarnishing the world is progress at amazing speed. It is due to the implementation of highly automatic robotic machinery. No matter in the colossal mining industry to tiny manufacturing industry, the reduction of human labour has already created a serious social problem. Gigantic cooperation with no business ethics has already eroded the living quality. Unemployment is already very serious although the government figures didn’t show.
Remember when I graduated from university in 1972, there were many permanent jobs for me to select. Nowadays, I have seen too many young people looking for jobs for years and still couldn’t find one. This problem is worldwide, especially in the western world. I inspected a stamping plant in General Motors in 1990 for Ontario Hydro. It was an enormously large factory for stamping car doors. This plant hired only few employees. They were reading newspaper while a huge machine pouring piles of doors by itself.
Seeing many entrepreneur beginners putting advertising on lamppost, parking meter, and public properties, on receiving many phone calls of promoting redundant services, I can realize the young people has already reached the dead end of looking for jobs. Unable to compete with big enterprise, wishing a break through with a little dream, these young people forced to take risks, which has very low chance to survive.
Large corporation taking advantage of automation, with the minimum employees hired, they compete within several players with marginal profit, has created not only employment problems, but also pouring billion tons of hi-tech garbage. Putting the world in chaos on wasting resources, which one-day, we might be too late to regret. Large corporations should not use price to compete. This kind of strategy can hurt everybody. It is no good to itself either. The qualities of these mass-produced products are not inferior at all. Proper maintenance can last fifty years with no trouble. Low pricing provoke people’s wasting habit to abandon anything with minimum dissatisfaction.
High tech garbage has already become a serious environmental problem. This garbage contains many precious metals, such as gold, silver, tin, lead, cadmium, nickel, and etc. Some metals such as cadmium, lead, nickel can cause contamination and serious health hazard. To recover these waste materials is labour intensive. These high tech wastes are non-uniform, low repetition, difficult to disassemble and with many other reasons making them unable to be automated to recycle. Developed countries tried to dump them to under developing countries received unwelcome notice. Many of these wastes are still in very good working shape. Some of them are practically new. There is a good chance of success to reduce waste if we could control the ethics of large corporation, and manufacturer. Below are some testimonies of waste creation:
The alternator and starter of automobiles have a life of 120 thousand kilometers. The trouble is usually the carbon brush on alternator and contactor on starter wears out on prolonged use. In 70’s, you could purchase these parts in any supplier for few dollars; many handy people could do the repair job very well. Nowadays, all auto manufacturers getting smarter on not selling these little parts. You might have to spend few hundred dollars to replace them.
Printer is the best example of high tech waste. You could pays as low as $40.00 dollars to purchase a new printer. The replacement ink can cost you $60.00. Manufacturers are using tactics of giving out hardware below cost price to promote the sales of supply. This tactic does not work well, because many smarter people refill the ink cartridge to bypass the purchase of new ink cartridge from the manufacturer. The print head in some model is built in with the ink cartridge, has very limited life. When the printer needs head replacement, consumers will purchase new printers instead of replacing the head. You could find many almost new printers at very low price on garage sale. A buyer could think he got a good deal, until he learned he has to pay near new price to make it working. These printers finally end up in landfill sites.
Remote control and many electronic products are using snap in hooks to replace screws on enclosure. These snap in have advantage of good looking and time saving on production. It is very difficult to open, and most likely have severe damage on opening. Prolonged use of remote control will leave carbon dust on contacts making it malfunction. A little clean up will put it back to life. Snap in will make things difficult to repair, making people dispose things on small problem.
I can remember how many light bulbs I ever purchased when I was a kid. My father had light bulbs before Second World War in good working shape. Nowadays, light bulbs manufacturers admit they deliberately reduce life of product to promote sales. Light bulbs contain copper, tint, lead, tungsten, and glass. Recyclers would not take light bulbs to recycle.
Some manufacturer will make timer in merchandise, such that they know how long you have been operating it. On expiration time, it will issue a scaring message, or even simply cut you out from service. Your can find them in automobiles, mp3 players, printers, and many things. I experienced two American built vehicles gave me warning of check engines after certain mileage. My dealer said these messages doesn’t mean anything, it will cost me a substantial fee to turn this warning off. Some people couldn’t stand this panic and sold the car cheap. Many ink printers has some paper absorber to absorb waste ink on printers. Manufacturers will time your usage and cut you out on waste tank full. Manufacturers designed machines in such a way that you have to strip down the machine from top to bottom to replace absorber. It is few hours of work. The labour cost will scare away consumers. If they make a holder at the bottom of the printer, then, the repair job could be reduced to few minutes.
Although it is a bite outdated to say it today, because many people have already switched to digital cameras, film manufacturer promoting one time use camera is non environmental. It wouldn’t cost them much difference in price if they make it reusable. These big corporation one side promoting environment policy while on the darker side conflicting what they said.
Many distributors do not bother with after market of their products. When a product broke down, there is no service manual or parts to repair them. If there are parts, it might cost almost the price of a new one.
Some manufacturers are reluctant to disclose service information. They even deliberately make a product non-serviceable. They use special screws, which you cannot buy screwdriver, which fit, or simply welded the enclosure. It is because many end users are tampering with the product and sue the manufacturer on any excuse. There are warning messages on the devices still could not protect the manufacturer from being sued. Many filthy lawyers provide contingent fee service for clients to sue manufacturers. These greedy victims make claims, which are fraudulent, especially on accident claims. Existing law is inefficient to suppress these stingy cases. Layers association does not like contingent fee policy. These gangs are so powerful that even RCMP would hold back. Move anti-corruption group of RCMP report directly to Governor of Canada might help. Canada could borrow this policy from Hong Kong. Make contingent fee service illegal could also reduce fraud. Unless government could provide some form of protection to manufacturers, otherwise, it is very difficult to convince manufacturers to co-operate with environment policy.
Many repair shops cannot survive, because of low price on new replacement, complexity of new products, lack of service information, non-repairable, couldn’t get parts.
I received lots of junk mail, free newspaper, and flyer everyday. Many of them are delivering by post office. There is so much, which makes people no longer interest to read them anyway. I just put them on recycle bin. My food packaging is charming, but serves no purpose. On opening a pack of food, I found the packing material worth much more than the food. I would rather eat more, do less labour work to unpack, and see less nice package design. Packaging on consumer products is amazing. After opening a new purchase, half of my money spent gone to recycle bin. Packaging material needs lots of resource and energy to manufacture them. Recyclable seemed to be a good excuse to make nice looking cosmetic on packaging. Recycle waste material will need another fold of energy. Plastic needs lots of heat energy to melt down and press into new products. Paper needs lots of energy and water to remanufacture them into new products. The best way to conserve energy is to reduce packaging to minimum. Consumer is happier to spend less money and get more value they spend.
Every night I received telemarketing calls, junk fax; I also received tons of junk email. These are disturbances to people. It violates human privacy. People no longer pay any attention to them. My mailbox will auto delete them anyway. The sender is wasting their time and money to deliver messages I never read them. These electronic forms of messages consume lots of energy.
Above testimonies show manufacturers are favoring ease of production, and ignore the life expectancy of products. Consumers were attracted by low price. The consequence is motivating end user to purchase new one at smallest excuse. Merchant is using packaging to attract customer rather than quality. Irresponsible advertising invade privacy reflects a jobless society. These conducts are conflicting with environmental policy. Fighting environmental war could not be lead by end user, because not many are heroic to have environmental ego. It is left the job to government. Below are some suggestions on government’s responsibility.
Benefits of promoting these environmental codes: