Friday, 20 July 2012

Designed for the dump

Was your laptop built for this?
Image: Alex E. Proimos
This week, a certain well-known maker of computers and phones has come under criticism for launching a product that is not as environmentally friendly as it could be. According to reports, their new laptop has a battery that isn't removable or replaceable. This might not sound like a big deal, but it does have surprising implications.

The battery is often one of the first things to stop working in a laptop or other gadget. By installing a battery so that no-one can replace it (not even a computer engineer) then you're limiting the life span of the device. Which, cynics would argue, is a great way to lock people into buying the latest gadgets.

Sadly, there are many companies that seem to be doing this. Some people have called this approach "designed for the dump" - in other words, a product is designed so that it becomes useless after a couple of years, can't be repaired, and has to be thrown away.

On the one hand, this doesn't seem great for the environment. On the other hand, it causes people to buy products they wouldn't otherwise buy, and so keeps people in jobs and money in the economy.
Personally, I like shiny gadgets and new technology. But I don't like how quickly it can become unusable when it's still capable of working.

There's an interesting video about the life of electronic gadgets that goes into more detail. It's available below, and also via YouTube.

Image credit: Trash Mountain by Alex E. Proimos, licenced under CC-BY licence, obtained via

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