You are viewing a read-only archive of the Blogs.Harvard network. Learn more.
Skip to content

Not really in it for the recycling bit

There’s an interesting article on how some company named Wallflower got started recycling LCDs from old laptops and adding some customizations and selling them as fancy picture viewers. However, once they got succesful they ditched the recycling of the older LCDs and went to more ‘traditional’ methods. Here’s an excerpt:

Left with nice cashflow from its rising order volume, and needing more certainty in its supply chain than Weird Stuff Warehouse could provide, Wallflower recently gave up on the whole recycled kick and started buying components from manufacturers, the way most computer companies do.

Frankly, it’s a little bit disappointing to me that they stopped recycling and just went to more ‘normal’ methods for acquiring components. That says to me that recycling products cannot scale past a certain number as it becomes too unwieldy if you’re trying to do business. Most techies have a passing interest in what happens to their comptuers when they said it to the big junk heap in the sky. However, most of them don’t really think about the whole cycle of that if they buy something use it and eventually toss it. That stuff must EVENTUALLY go somewhere. Most technology folks are too concerned with the imminent future (although I can say the way the market shapes things it makes it impossible NOT to be a techie and continuously look at the imminent future) and the gazillion variables that come with it than deal with the pile of stuff left behind.
Now that I’ve complained I can’t offer any good solutions myself. To recycle some of these parts requires a decent depth in understanding what the old hardware can do and the know how AND the extra equipment (yes it requires money and time to figure out what to do with these things) on how to take the components apart and use them in some new and hopefully useful way. And many times it will be a failure. And lots of failures tends to spoil hope. I know I’ve tried and failed to figure out what to do with these thing many times and I’m always disappointed. Each disappointment feels like an eventual buildup to just giving in.

I’m continuously thinking about the lagging end problem however friggin’ Moore’s law and consumer perception makes it nigh impossible to figure out what to do with these things as the type of stuff that keeps getting dumped on you is completely variable. But I keep trying because I choose to not dismiss it as a problem for ‘future generations to handle’. Hopefully, I’ll start coming up with something practical. In the meantime the best I can do is collect the parts and ponder and learn.

Be Sociable, Share!