Saturday, January 10, 2015

Upgrade rather than throw away your next phone

Upgrade rather than throw away your next phone

Bulk boxes full of outdated and broken phones are prematurely recycled

  So many phones end up in the landfill.  I worked at a donation resale business for a while.  I LITERALLY saw thousands of phones in pallet sized bulk box 40” × 48” x 36” inch containers that were full of old phones and broken  phones donated for recycling for their electronic metals.  I was very surprised to see the volume of this.  Their sin was to be last years phones, to have irreplaceable dead batteries, a cracked screen, an older CPU, to be a non-smart phone. To be non-upgradable and non-repairable.

  If the components of these phones were replaceable they would still have a chance for life.  A dead battery could be replaced, even a broken screen or a slowing CPU would not be a hinderance to giving its owner a few years more service.  Is there a reason that these phones could not be designed from the start to be repairable and upgradeable?  They were built to make a profit and not to last for more than a couple years.
  Electronic parts are not the only thing that needs to be designed to be recyclable. There is also entirely too much plastic waste in the world.  Products are not designed to be taken apart to be recycled into their individual parts, both electronic and plastic.   I am saddened when I see of all the plastic waste that ends up in the ocean.  We do recycle many plastics, but not all plastics are recyclable.  Why not only use plastics that are recyclable?  Why not reuse this plastic to remake things that have honestly worn out or are broken.  A lot of the plastic to build our phones is currently not recycled plastic.  But that can change. Why not use all that waste plastic to make other things. To make the shell's of our phones and devices. To make recycled filament material for 3D printers.
 Project Ara parts-578-80.jpg
The Ara and the sum of its replaceable and reusable parts
An Ara phone user making a call               

  You may have heard of Project Ara in the news.  Ara is a phone project being promoted and designed by Google.  It is another way to recycle, one that reduces waste, both electronic and plastic.  A way to start with a basic phone and upgrade and repair it.  This would allow a phone to have many more years of usage.  A phone that can be a basic phone in third world countries as Google’s is already planning or a high end phone for the enthusiasts.  

  The premise is simple.  Make the phone modular.  And as easy to replace a needed module as a piece of Legos Blocks.  So that even the average user can have another way to do their part to help reduce all that waste that is constantly being made, by repairing or upgrading their own phone.  But you're older but still usable module part does not have to be recycled yet.  Its life does not have to be over.  They still have value and can even be sold to a new user that does not need, want, or perhaps can not afford this years modules.  Sure it may be the latest and greatest but it still has life in it and can be used.  Your older phone module may be just what someone else is looking for.
  But to be a success an idea has to get out off the blueprint stage and start to be produced, and this is happening.  CPU makers are building chips and PC boards for this new phone.  Its plastic parts can already be 3D printed and even customized.  Specialized sound modules are being created.  Forums for the developers at XDA are there to help plan and create these modules.  And a community of interested fans at the Project Ara Forum are there to help support its success and to help new users learn about Ara.  Google is hosting a Developer Conference on January 14, 2015 to help developers further to create new modules for the Ara phone.

  The Ara Project is moving along to help reduce waste, Make phones repairable and upgradeable. To provide basic phones to both third world countries as well as a phone for the enthusiast or those with special needs. The modular, upgradable, repairable and recyclable phone is finally being created.

Do think Ara will help alleviate the waist problem? Will you be willing to buy used parts for repair or upgrade?

  Project Ara Forum member.