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Recent News

  • Cell phones thrown in the trash are exploding, causing 5-alarm fires in garbage trucks
    Love your electronic devices all you want, but please, please, please don't throw them in the trash when you're done with them. That's a plea from makers of the lithium-ion batteries that typically power our phones, laptops and even power tools. Thrown into the trash or even the recycling bin, they can cause fires at trash and recycling centers. Source: USA Today, 5/18/18
  • Apple partners with mining firms on zero-carbon aluminium smelting
    Technology giant Apple has announced a new partnership with industrial firms Alcoa Corporation and Rio Tinto Aluminium to accelerate commercialisation of new technology that eliminates all greenhouse gas emissions from the smelting process of aluminium. Source: Edie.net, 5/11/18
  • Recycling renewables
    Renewable energy has been hailed as the great salve for the world's climate change woes. Building massive infrastructure for solar and wind energy, and introducing electric vehicles, will help citizens in developing countries live the lifestyles they desire without the need to burn dirty fossil fuels. But though these technologies have existed for decades, there's no plan to make sure they remain green to the end. Experts forecast hundreds of thousands of tons of old wind turbine blades, batteries, and solar modules will need to be disposed of or recycled in the next decade--and millions of tons by 2050. Read on about the technologies evolving around the world to handle this unusual waste stream. Source: Chemical & Engineering News, 4/9/18
  • Extracting Metals from E-Waste Costs 13 Times Less Than Mining Ore
    Recovering gold, copper, and other metals from electronic waste isn't just sustainable, it's actually 13 times cheaper than extracting metals from mines, researchers report in the American Chemical Society's journal Environmental Science & Technology. Source: Environmental Leader, 4/9/18
  • UNSW launches 'world-first' e-waste microfactory
    The University of New South Wales' microfactory uses a variety of modules that sort and transform discarded laptop and smartphone parts into reusable materials. Source: ZDNet, 4/5/18
  • Energy Hogs: Can World's Huge Data Centers Be Made More Efficient?
    The gigantic data centers that power the internet consume vast amounts of electricity and emit as much CO2 as the airline industry. To change that, data companies need to turn to clean energy sources and dramatically improve energy efficiency. Source: e360, 4/3/18
  • California, home to Silicon Valley, considers controversial right to repair
    A bill working its way through California's legislature (AB-2110 Electronics: Right to Repair Act) would require electronics manufacturers to make repair and diagnostic information, as well as equipment and/or service parts, available to consumers and repair shops. As written, the bill would allow cities, counties or the state to impose civil penalties of up to $5,000 per day, depending on the number of violations. Source: Waste Dive, 3/19/18
  • Researchers tap problematic e-waste surplus to recover high-quality polymers
    Mixed-plastic electronics waste could be a valuable source of reusable polymers, a new study suggests. The team has developed the first energy-efficient and environmentally friendly process that separates mixed polymers so that they can be recycled into new, high-quality plastic products. Source: Science Daily, 3/14/18
  • China places battery recycling responsibility on car manufacturers
    China will require producers of electric vehicles to be responsible for establishing facilities to collect and recycle old batteries, as reported by Reuters. The rules are a part of China's efforts to crack down on e-waste. Source: WasteDive, 3/1/18
  • Shape-shifting organic crystals use memory to improve plastic electronics
    Researchers have identified a mechanism that triggers shape-memory phenomena in organic crystals used in plastic electronics. Shape-shifting structural materials are made with metal alloys, but the new generation of economical printable plastic electronics is poised to benefit from this phenomenon, too. Shape-memory materials science and plastic electronics technology, when merged, could open the door to advancements in low-power electronics, medical electronics devices and multifunctional shape-memory materials. Source: University of Illinois News Bureau, 1/25/18
  • Replacing LED light bulbs before they fail may be greener
    Households can reduce their energy bills and cut their contribution to greenhouse gas emissions by switching to more efficient lighting, but what's the best strategy to maximize savings in cost, energy and emissions? Should we buy our new bulbs today or wait for further improvements to the technology? Having considered the options in detail, researchers based at the University of Michigan, US, have drawn up a list of household lighting guidelines to help us make the right decision. Source: EnvironmentalResearchWeb, 2/12/18
  • Responsible Battery Coalition Launches 2 Million Battery Challenge at U.S. Senate Auto Caucus Briefing on Sustainability
    A coalition of leading vehicle battery manufacturers, recyclers, retailers and users dedicated to the responsible manufacturing, use and reuse of vehicle batteries launched an initiative today to recover 2 million more batteries with the goal of achieving a recycling rate of 100%. The campaign, called the 2 Million Battery Challenge, is an effort to engage consumers to bring their used vehicle batteries to the nearest participating auto parts retailer to have them properly recycled. Source: Responsible Battery Coalition, 2/11/18
  • Green chemistry is theme for 2019 Bower Award and Prize for Achievement in Science
    The Franklin Institute seeks nominations for the 2019 Bower Award and Prize for Achievement in Science of individuals who have made significant contributions to green and sustainable chemistry--chemistry focused on the technological design of chemical products and processes that reduce or eliminate the use or generation of hazardous substances. Objectives of green and sustainable chemistry include: minimizing the use of chemical raw materials, reducing waste, lowering the toxicity of utilized chemicals, and improving lifecycle through the use of more sustainable or renewable raw materials to produce fuels or chemicals, thereby minimizing the environmental impact of chemical processes. Prize is $250,000 USD. Submission deadline is May 31, 2018. Source: Franklin Institute, 2/7/18
  • How lithium-ion electric car batteries could still power your home once they've run out of zap
    Anticipating an influx of lithium-ion battery waste as electric vehicles become more popular and common, researchers in Australia are working with companies to improve battery storage technology, as well as looking at ways of reusing batteries once they run out of steam for an energy-intensive car engine. Source: ABC News (Australia), 2/6/18
  • Rewritable paper goes technicolor
    The paper industry has a significant environmental impact, from cutting down trees for raw material to consuming large amounts of energy and water to process that material. To curb that impact, chemists have been working on rewritable paper technologies that would allow people to print on a sheet of paper with special inks and then erase them to reuse the paper. Source: Chemical & Engineering News, 1/9/18
  • The Hellish E-Waste Graveyards Where Computers Are Mined for Metal
    Each year the planet generates some 50 million tons of electronic waste, ranging from batteries to mobile phones to light-up children's toys. And although such devices may have been discarded, they're not without value--the United Nations recently estimated the total worth of all that e-waste at $55 billion, thanks largely to the trace amounts of gold, silver, and other metals they contain. The problem, though, is getting them out. German photographer Kai Löffelbein spent seven years documenting how those metals are extracted, often under dangerous conditions, by some of the world's poorest people. His forthcoming book, CTRL-X: A Topography of E-Waste, contains photographs he took in Ghana, China, and India, where much of the world's e-waste ends up. Source: Wired, 1/8/18
  • Dell and actress Nikki Reed want to turn your old laptop into gold jewelry
    Dell wants to do more than just encourage people to recycle old electronics -- it wants to re-use their valuable metals in new Dell products and more. To draw attention to these efforts, it's teaming up with actress Nikki Reed and her eco-friendly Bayou with Love brand, which she co-founded last year, to create a jewelry line completely sourced from the recycled electronics that Dell collects. Among the items that will be created include 14- and 18-carat gold rings, cufflinks, and earrings. The products, on sale today, will be sold directly from the Bayou with Love website. Pricing will range from $78 for a gold ball ring to $348 for a pair of cufflinks. The items are also fully made of gold and are not simply gold-plated. According to Dell, it will take approximately six motherboards to produce a single piece of jewelry. In addition to providing the gold, Dell will also be assisting the company with communication and marketing support as part of its Dell Small Business advisory program. In addition to using recycled materials for jewelry, Dell will also be applying some of the gold it recycles into new motherboards for its Latitude 5285 computers shipping in March, which it claims will be a computer industry first. Source: USA Today, 1/9/18
  • NYS offers $3M in grants for e-waste costs
    Over the course of six years, more than 260,000 tons of e-waste has been collected by and recycled under the State Electronic Equipment Recycling and Reuse Act. That amounts to more than 520 million pounds from 2011 through 2016, a press release from the State Department of Environmental Conservation said. And now, the state has made $3 million in grant funding available from its Environmental Protection Fund to help municipalities address the unintended costs associated with the collection and recycling of eligible e-waste. Source: Press Republican, 12/20/17
  • It's Not You, It's Your Battery--Apple Confirms iOS Update Slows Performance
    iFixit weighs in on the recent news regarding Apple's old iPhone performance slow down, presenting the results of performance tests on older phones before and after battery replacement. Source: iFixit.org, 12/20/17
  • Apple Says It Slows Older iPhones To Save Their Battery Life
    Confirming iPhone owners' suspicions that Apple purposefully slows the operation of older phones, Apple says that it does just that -- and that slowing down processors makes it easier for old batteries to perform after they've begun to lose capacity. But some customers say the company's strategy of dealing with the power demand pushes them to replace their older iPhones with newer models. Source: NPR, 12/21/17
  • For dead EV batteries, reuse comes before recycle
    Automakers and e-waste recyclers find new uses for electric vehicle batteries when their on-road service life ends. Source: Roadshow by CNET, 12/5/17
  • Quantifying carbon offsets in refurb and reuse
    A Canadian ITAD firm has brought the concept of carbon credits into the refurbishment realm as a way of offsetting the carbon impact associated with purchasing new IT equipment. Compugen, a major IT service provider in Canada, launched a refurbishment arm a decade ago called Compugen Finance. It offers ITAD services to Compugen's customers, including large enterprise clients such as banks, insurance companies, law firms and more. Three months ago, Compugen Finance began offering carbon credits to companies supplying the ITAD division with retired assets. The idea is that there are carbon emissions associated with manufacturing new equipment, so by sending equipment to reuse and repair channels, a company helps cuts down on emissions in the future. Source: E-scrap News, 11/30/17
  • Going circular
    Technology manufacturers are increasingly being encouraged to think about the circular economy -- the concept that materials and goods should be kept in circulation for longer rather than follow the traditional 'linear' model of make, sell, use, then dispose. Industrial design and better engineering are the keys to making this happen. But it is also fair to say that the sector is under increasing scrutiny as electronics continue to proliferate. NGOs, such as Greenpeace, ifixit and the Restart programme, as well as Government itself, are becoming increasingly vocal in expecting industry to respond positively to this agenda. Source: New Electronics, 11/16/17
  • Report Reveals Tech Industry Giants Failing to Keep Child Labor Out of Cobalt Supply Chains
    Cobalt is back in the news, as a new report from Amnesty International reveals that tech industry giants such as Microsoft, Lenovo, Renault and Vodafone aren't doing enough to keep child labor out of cobalt battery supply chains in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and China. The findings come almost two years after Amnesty exposed a link between batteries used in their products and child labor. Time to Recharge ranks industry leaders, including Apple, Samsung SDI, Dell, Microsoft, BMW, Renault, Vodafone and Tesla according to improvements to their cobalt-sourcing practices since January 2016. The 108-page report revealed that only a handful of companies made progress, with many failing to take even basic steps, such as investigating supply links in the DRC. Source: Sustainable Brands, 11/15/17
  • Device refurbishers assess critical issues
    Nearly 300 IT product refurbishing experts convened in New Orleans this week to consider industry trends and to address barriers to growth. The event was the 14th annual Electronics Reuse Conference, now operated by the consulting firm E-Reuse Services. Source: E-scrap News, 11/2/17
  • iPhone X Release: The Human Cost of Apple's Most Expensive IPhone Ever
    Ten years of metronomic iPhone launches has not muted the mania surrounding the release of the iPhone X--dubbed by Apple as "the future of the smartphone." But beneath the din of delayed deliveries and overpriced devices are resurfacing allegations of human rights violations at supplier factories, including worker protests and abuse. Source: Newsweek, 11/3/17
  • China's recyclers eye looming electric vehicle battery mountain
    After years of dismantling discarded televisions and laptops, a Shanghai recycling plant is readying itself for a new wave of waste: piles of exhausted batteries from the surge of electric vehicles hitting China's streets. The plant has secured licenses and is undergoing upgrades to handle a fast-growing mountain of battery waste, said Li Yingzhe, a manager at the facility, run by the state-owned Shanghai Jinqiao Group. Source: Reuters, 10/22/17
  • Amazon, Microsoft and Google get low grades on recycling policy from Greenpeace
    In a report from Greenpeace, Amazon, Google, Microsoft and Samsung all received low grades in the area of resource consumption. Fairphone received the highest grade, followed by Dell, HP, Apple and Lenovo. The organization also released a detailed report card, broken down into categories and sub-categories, explaining how it assigned rankings. Source: Waste Dive, 10/17/17
  • Apple made 2 simple changes to iPhone packaging that drastically cut the amount of plastic headed to the landfill
    Subtle changes in recent Apple packaging has significantly reduced the amount of plastic that ends up in the trash -- and most iPhone buyers probably didn't even notice. Apple was able to redesign iPhone 7 packaging to use 84% less plastic, the company revealed in a new report on its forestry operations. Source: Business Insider, 10/10/17
  • El-egg-tronics: how egg white could help us make transparent, flexible devices
    Materials scientists have found that egg white can be turned into a film-like substance that's perfect for making memory units. Researchers from Southwest University in China, led by Qunliang Song, showed that when egg white is mixed with hydrogen peroxide, a series of chemical reactions occur that allow the material to be turned into a film that can be used to make transparent, flexible resistive memory. Source: TechRadar, 9/29/17