menu

Piers Fawkes: For A Green Future, Electronics Need To Be Disposable

Piers Fawkes: For A Green Future, Electronics Need To Be Disposable
Design

Consumers need to face up to their throw-away tech-habit and expect at-home recyclable materials in their gadgets.

Piers Fawkes, PSFK
  • 7 december 2011

During a talk given by Al Gore at a special PSFK event in New York, the former Vice President and Apple board member reminded the audience of Moore’s Law. The law, as many of you know, states that the number of transistors that can be placed inexpensively on an integrated circuit doubles approximately every two years. What this means, Mr Gore pointed out, is that technology changes at such a rate that our iPads are more powerful than the “supercomputer” of the 1980s.

This tremendous advance means that our ‘consumer’ technology becomes obsolete quickly — at least in our minds. This year’s tech is considerably more powerful than last year’s and we consumers are prone to abandoning the old for the new while the electronics industry makes their products with materials that can last an eternity.

I guess that we have an internal paradox – we spend a lot of money on electronics and we therefore want them to feel like they have value when we buy them. Gadget makers respond to this my making our phones, tablets and appliances using robust and durable plastics, metals and glass.

The Environmental Protection Agency says that in 2010 there were 125 million old phones discarded, resulting in 65,000 tons of waste. Makers should be building in these materials and we shouldn’t be expecting them to be made like they are. We consumers need to admit to ourselves that we are going to dispose of the shiny mobile phone, laptop or game console we just bought within two years. Electronic makers need to supply products that can be composted or recycled at home.

A few years ago on PSFK, we featured examples of modular electronics where a gadget could remain relevant (and sustainable) as the owner changed parts as they went out of date rather than replacing the whole item. That idea hasn’t really caught on.

Consumers need to face up to their throw-away tech-habit and expect at-home recyclable materials in their gadgets. Recently, we have been watching a number of electronics concepts being shared around the web which have been cased in cardboard. These paper-based ideas look like novelty items but I believe that these actually point to a sustainable future.

The Cardboard Radio from Suck UK

VAX EV Cardboard Concept

By building their concepts in cardboard, I feel that the designers behind these products actually grasp the notion that all electronics are disposable and that we need to start building our tech in materials like cardboard that consumers can process after use at home.

Trending

Machine Printer Uses Coffee Drips To Create Intricate Portraits

Arts & Culture
Technology december 2, 2016

Why Nest Doesn't Get The Holidays

PSFK founder reacts to the damaging effects of poor email marketing

Children december 2, 2016

Robots Could Be Joining Dubai’s Police Force In 2017

The real-life RoboCops can salute, shake hands and collect traffic fines

Trending

Get PSFK's Related Report: Future of Automotive

See All
Travel december 2, 2016

Parka Hides And Charges Portable Devices

Bolt is a jacket that lets people carry and charge their various electronics without the need for an outlet

Related Expert

Evan Spiegel

Social Media, Digital Media, Distribution

Food december 2, 2016

Yelp's New 'Yelfie' Feature Lets Diners Take Selfies

The update is designed to encourage people to attach a selfie when they share their experiences

Design & Architecture december 2, 2016

Build Your Own Savory Cheese Advent Calendar

A British food blogger has created a guide to building a different kind of holiday surprise

Fitness & Sport december 2, 2016

Floating Gym Concept In Paris Is Powered By Your Workout

The proposed design from Carlo Ratti Associati lets passengers ride a stationary bike as they travel through Paris along the Seine River

PSFK LABS REPORT

Future Of Retail 2017
Transformation Strategies For Customer-First Business
NEW

PSFK Op-Ed december 2, 2016

Customer Service Expert: Why Offline Retail Has Better Data Than Online Retail

Healey Cypher, Founder and CEO of Oak Labs, shares why we should be thinking about the physical store as an e-commerce site

PSFK Labs december 1, 2016

Retail Spotlight: Home Depot Reimagines How Employees Conduct Tasks

The home improvement retailer puts the customer first by initiating local fulfillment centers and simplifying freight-to-shelf inventory management

Syndicated december 2, 2016

What Does The Future Of Android Look Like In A World With The Pixel?

Google’s decision to make its own phone might have looked like a blow to the likes of Samsung but the reality is much more interesting

Fashion december 2, 2016

Alexander McQueen Designs A 3D-Printed Umbrella

3D-printed fashion arrives in time for the winter season

Work december 2, 2016

Why Training Associates To Be Advocates Is Key To Retail Success

In our Future of Retail 2017 report, PSFK Labs discusses strategies to prioritize customer service, which begins with associate advocates

Media & Publishing december 2, 2016

Netflix Creates Binge Candle To Celebrate A New Season Of Gilmore Girls

The streaming service developed a special layered candle that creates candle with episode-specific smells

Arts & Culture december 2, 2016

Interactive Film Tells A Story About Living With Cancer

A moving song written by a father of a cancer patient comes alive in a 3D environment

PSFK LABS REPORT

Future Of Work
Cultivating The Next Generation Of Leaders
NEW

Automotive december 2, 2016

Audi And LEGO Exhibit Autonomous Vehicle Installation

The installation at Design Miami explores the 25th hour, which represents bonus productive work or play time

Gaming & Play december 2, 2016

This Game Lets You Be A Pilot In The Drone Racing League

DRL Racing Simulator recreates actual courses in a virtual environment

Travel december 1, 2016

Hotel Chain Is Giving Away Its Not-So-Super Hotel Art At Art Basel

A lesson in how to advertise a kitschy-to-cool redesign in the middle of Miami Art Week

No search results found.