iFixit: knowledge empowers us to recycle

I thought this was a great video; love what Kyle is doing at iFixit. I had heard about the e-waste farms in Africa but never seen footage of them, until now.

Something to think about.

17 Responses to “iFixit: knowledge empowers us to recycle”

  1. John Kelley says:

    Also of note is that Goodwill accepts charitable donations of computers and electronics in any condition and will either sell, fix or recycle them. They’ll even give you a tax receipt for the donation.

    http://www.goodwill.org/get-involved/donate/donation-acceptance-guidelines/#computer

  2. Andrew says:

    Points for earnestness, and everything I read about these salvage ops is horrifying (also ship breakers, etc), but..

    The vast majority of modern “e-waste” is really not repairable by the vast majority of humans with commonly available equipment. Board-level replacements are easy enough if you can get replacement boards at a reasonable price. Standard bulk components on single-layer boards (e.g. power supplies), can be repaired by lots of people…but SMT/multilayer/ASIC diagnosis/repair seems far-fetched, no?

    Also, RoHS cuts both ways.

    I think iFixit is great though.

  3. Matthew Lock says:

    Reducing our e-waste would take away many African e-waste recycler’s livelihoods. We might think they should get a better job, but that assumes there’s a better job available for them. What if e-waste recycling is the best job they can get?

    • Howie says:

      What IF that is the best job they can get, if we take that away from them, what will they do to survive, it seems to me they have taken a problem and turned around to make it profitable for themselves, what they need is education on the hazards of the way they are doing things!

  4. Mark says:

    Good ideas, but never happen in our disposable society. Also, most computers are disposed of long before they ever fail and need repaired. They are just replaced with faster, more powerful ones. Only the true hackers and those mechanically/electrically inclined would attempt to tackle most repairs anyways. I often pull stuff out of the trash to repair and use for myself and hate to see all that equipment go to waste, but until society changes or it becomes economically worthwhile I just don’t see it happening.

  5. Steve Shockley says:

    Why is the vast majority of modern “e-waste” not repairable? SMT/multilayer/ASIC diagnosis and repair is difficult when you’re starting with nothing, but his whole point is to create documentation and make it available. I recently purchased a cheap Aoyue solder/desolder/hot-air station for $250, and they’re under $200 now. As “exotic” technologies like SMT become mainstream, the tools become inexpensive as well.

    I’m old, and I remember when electronic equipment came with schematics. I somehow doubt this will return, since manufacturers have learned that people don’t mind buying something new every three years (or less), so providing repair information competes with sales of new product. Couple that with the (relatively) high wages of repair techs in the US vs. the low wages of assemblers in China, and throwing out a broken but serviceable device almost makes sense.

  6. caustik says:

    I’ll off an opposing view point (though I definitely don’t know enough to make an informed decision here):

    I’m thinking maybe for folks with the interest and skill needed to repair their devices, the value of their time is higher than the value saved by doing the repair themselves. If bunnie fixes his toaster instead of just buying a new one, that’s a sweet blog article or game console hack that the world will go without.

    I also wonder what these folks in Africa might be doing if they weren’t working at the farm? I mean, if they are doing the work, they must see it as their best option. Taking away this option for them could do harm. I’d be more interested in seeing money raised to arm them with gas masks and make other process improvements. Hell, there may even be a possibility to make money there for some big global corp who can advertise the nice deed they are doing for good publicity.

    I guess I’m pretty cynical, but the iFixit guy talking really sounded like a souless salespitch to me. I didn’t feel any heart in it at all.

  7. [...] This interesting video — really a commercial for iFixit — has some fascinating things to say that would resonate with makers. Do you see yourself slaving over some 386 trying to get it to work? If iFixit creates a Wikipedia-like repair guide, will you contribute? Leave a comment with your thoughts. [Via bunnie's blog] [...]

  8. [...] This interesting video — really a commercial for iFixit — has some fascinating things to say that would resonate with makers. Do you see yourself slaving over some 386 trying to get it to work? If iFixit creates a Wikipedia-like repair guide, will you contribute? Leave a comment with your thoughts. [Via bunnie's blog] [...]

  9. To add to this story, 60 Minutes did a story on E-Waste in China last year. The results are the same. Health problems, pollution, and continuous flow of junk from the developing countries. Here’s a link to the 60 Minutes story(Video):
    http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=5274959n&tag=related;photovideo

  10. cesarb says:

    > If bunnie fixes his toaster instead of just buying a new one, that’s a sweet blog article or game console hack that the world will go without.

    Unless he decides to not only fix his toaster, but also use an Arduino to turn it into a toaster-game console hybrid. And write a blog article about it.

  11. CISR says:

    About time, I am not an electrician. The only schooling I have in electronics was school yet with a bit of poking around can usually fix most appliances. Might be a problem wher I cant get parts. I would love for all eletronics to come complete with schematics, fault guides and so on.

    Just the other day my brother was throwing away his Acer L320, it failed no output. Soon came apparent the nortbridge had over heated, crap airflow (none). I dont own an expensive reflow over or alike, with a bit of experementation used oven in the kitched. The BGA connections seems to be working now. Nothing more than an afternoon, saves him £££ and waste.

    It’s no different to repairing your car. Imagine if you threw your new car on the scrap heap becuase it needs a new clutch. Thats exactly what happens with electronics in the west. I bet the culture in places like China is completley different. I would love to see local reapir shops popping up.

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  15. Chris says:

    Too many times people pick an/the extreme end of an idea to torpedo it.
    Or find excuses to continue the status quo, in this case of wasteful consumerism with no regard for its unnecessary negative effects.

    No, no one expects the masses to diagnose & repair board-level components.
    But how many ipods get tossed due to bad batteries?
    How many PCs due to bad harddrives or power supplies or even just noisy fans?

    There is a continuum of difficulty of repair / return on investment here & everyone can pick their place of comfort on it. Some of the payback should also come from pride/satisfaction of fixing something & keeping it out of the waste stream. Instead of poisoning impoverished 3rd world countries with things that are fixable, you could donate the $$$ saved to relevant causes.

    Speaking as a parent, I’d not want to be responsible for bringing someone into this world that has no idea how anything works or how to fix things when they don’t.

  16. [...] This interesting video — really a commercial for iFixit — has some fascinating things to say that would resonate with makers. Do you see yourself slaving over some 386 trying to get it to work? If iFixit creates a Wikipedia-like repair guide, will you contribute? Leave a comment with your thoughts. [Via bunnie's blog] [...]