RoHS directives like REACH and WEEE legislation were introduced to reduce the use of hazardous materials in electronics manufacture. One reason for this was the growing problem of consumer electronics ending up on landfill sites. Modern technology has made electronics products so cheap and easy to replace that it’s more convenient to throw them away than get them repaired.
Indeed, modern technology is often designed to be virtually irreparable; it’s designed to reach its finite lifespan and then expire permanently. The world of electronics commerce is highly competitive, and no commercial manufacturer is going to encourage consumers to repair their gadgets rather than replace them with new ones. In fact, there’s a degree of imposed obsolescence to ensure this doesn’t happen. “New improved” products often lead to components in the older versions becoming obsolete, or incompatible.
With modern CAD and PCB design tools, electronics manufacturers are constantly pushing back the boundaries of what is possible. The result is that the rate at which new technology is arriving on the market is roughly proportionate to the rate at which old technology is reaching the landfills.
We live in a disposable society. Mobile phones and games consoles are often seen as fashion items, out-of-date as soon as the next “must have” arrives. Consumers today don’t bother recycling their old electronics goods via the free ads – it’s not worth the effort. Ditto repairing peripherals like printers – it’s cheaper to buy a new one.
Unfortunately the WEEE directive makes no distinction between technology designed for long-term use, such as clinical monitors, and short-term fads. Luckily, we at Enventure Technologies offer a full range of environmental compliance solutions to handle the challenges of modern REACH compliance.