Design of the Times
Electronics manufacturers hop on the cradle-to-cradle bandwagon
Mindful of the growing impact of consumer electronics on the waste stream — and of the likelihood that government regulations could one day require them to recycle their own wares — electronics manufacturers like Dell, Hewlett-Packard, and Panasonic are beginning to design products with their full lifecycle in mind. Some are eliminating lead, mercury, and brominated flame retardants, toxic substances that pollute landfills and make gadgets difficult to recycle, from their products entirely. Some are trying to reduce the use of plastics in favor of metal, which is easier and more profitable to recycle, and reduce the use of screws and glues in favor of easier-to-disassemble snap-together parts. Some are trying to reduce the total number of parts. All of this brings designers to the fore, part of a movement described by author and sustainable-design guru William McDonough in the book Cradle to Cradle as a shift away from disposable living and toward a genuinely reusable and recyclable material life.