Our Top Fixes of 2012: #2 – Repair and Reuse Before Recycling

Laurence, Ben and the dvd player

Laurence, Ben and the dvd player

Laurence came to our first Restart Party in Brixton, the one we defined as our “Midas moment”, as everything we touched…miraculously got fixed. Laurence’s Matsui 225 dvd player was no exception to the rule: when she brought it to the event, it was a typical case of a sad piece of electronics on its way out, as it would “eat dvds” and not play them. A team of volunteers opened it and took the whole thing apart, making sure that the tray mechanism would get cleaned throughout. Jack, Ben and Alan, took about half an hour to perform the operation, and everyone enjoyed the learning experience: many of us had never seen how a dvd player works from the inside! When they put it back together, the dvd player started working again, as new.

But what is the point of fixing a dvd player, especially when the exact same model can be bought used on Ebay for close to nothing? Continue reading

“Permanent Error”

We don’t tend to like to use guilt as a driver for behaviour change. But there is something so powerful about South African photographer Pieter Hugo’s work on e-waste recyclers in Ghana, that we could not resist sharing.

Hugo will be speaking on Friday at Photographer’s Gallery in London – a talk which is already sold out. The exhibition of his work lasts until September 9. Continue reading

What we are throwing away

Our e-stuff is a goldmine. Recently the United Nations University and the Global e-Sustainability Initiative (GeSI) estimated that electronic waste now contains precious metal “deposits” 40 to 50 times richer than ores mined from the ground. Annually $16 billion in gold is built into our electronics and at least 85% is not recovered – lost forever.

WRAP estimates that in the UK, between now and 2020, 3 million tonnes of IT equipment, consumer electronics and display screens will be disposed.

This is roughly the weight of 30,000 Routemaster buses EACH YEAR.

According to WRAP, at least 25% of this waste could be reused.

But statistics are often abstractions. What actually happens on the ground? What does this look like? We visited Camden’s waste disposal and recycling site at Regis Road earlier this month.

Continue reading