April 13, 2024
Raymond Kent, Senior Design Leader, Principal at DLR Group

Raymond Kent, Senior Design Chief, Principal at DLR Group

Have you ever ever stopped and puzzled concerning the objects round you? What issues have you ever bought or acquired which might be both a part of your day by day life or sit on a shelf and acquire mud? Specifically, have you ever ever puzzled concerning the journey all these digital gadgets and machines we work together with on a private {and professional} stage took to grow to be what they’re and what is going to occur to them lengthy after we have now moved on to the subsequent machine? Take a laptop computer for instance. What would you wish to learn about that laptop computer? What are you able to study your self, your tradition, or globalization basically from a single machine? How does that laptop computer’s social, technical, skilled, and private life intersect with the lives of the individuals concerned in every stage of its manufacturing, distribution, consumption, and supreme destruction? I invite you to think about the next questions:

● What makes a laptop computer? The place do the uncooked supplies for the elements come from?

● Who extracted the uncooked supplies from the bottom to make the elements? What do you think about their life was like?

● Who processes these supplies into merchandise that can be utilized to make the elements? What should their lives be like?

● What about those that make the elements or assemble the laptop computer into the ultimate product? Are their lives completely different from the others?

● What’s the influence on the communities the place these items occur? Do these individuals use laptops? How a lot do they earn? How a lot has their a part of the method modified their lives? Has it affected individuals of their neighborhood in another way based mostly on age, gender, or class?

● How do these supplies make it into your laptop computer throughout cities, cities, or borders? What’s the transactional course of for getting or promoting these supplies? How are they transported?

● What’s the influence on the communities the place these things are consumed? Is it completely different for the uncooked supplies in comparison with the ultimate product? What are the well being impacts on the employees or the neighborhood? How a lot are they paid, and what are their working circumstances? How does that relate to what you paid in your laptop computer?

● What are the environmental impacts of every step within the course of?

● What are the true social prices of manufacturing one laptop computer concerning labor, water, energy techniques, sewage therapy, air pollution, healthcare, disposal, roads to move, and so on.? Who pays for that?

● What’s the environmental influence of that single laptop computer? How about 1000’s? What does it take to extract, course of, transport, pack, eat, and get rid of it? What’s the influence on the setting of every stage?

● The place does the laptop computer find yourself—a closet, a landfill, recycled, repurposed, or the ocean when it’s not helpful?

● Who’s managing the recycling of the laptop computer? Who’s doing the work, and beneath what circumstances?

● How has international geopolitical instability affected the method?

● How is local weather change affecting the method?

You can discover many different questions round your laptop computer or different know-how you work together with day by day. By analytically contemplating these items, higher selections could be made about what know-how we select and the way we strategy what we do with it all through its life cycle.

  ​The E-waste drawback is estimated to have a price of $62 billion and a rising alternative to reclaim and recycle these supplies into new merchandise.  

In 2015, the United Nations convened a convention of its member nations and created the 2030 Sustainable Improvement Agenda adopted by the whole membership. The unanimous consensus to make a concerted effort to be extra aware about sustainability was undertaken, culminating within the creation of Sustainable Improvement Targets (SDGs). These seventeen targets look holistically at how we work together with our planet, the merchandise we create, and the way we handle our assets.

In alignment with the UN’s SDGs is what to do concerning the fastest-growing international drawback: E-waste. It’s estimated that over 50 million tons of e-waste are generated yearly, which is predicted to develop by 40% by 2030. Many take into account this an end-of-life drawback, however the actuality is that it permeates the whole manufacturing course of chain, together with the extraction of uncooked supplies from the planet. The worldwide influence of the contemplative situation above concerning the laptop computer has each an upside in addition to a darkish aspect. For instance, the extraction of uncooked supplies degrades the setting, furthering air pollution and driving financial challenges as assets get depleted and mining operations transfer to the subsequent location. This impacts the work and the neighborhood financially and socially, usually resulting in difficult financial points. This additionally additional impacts creating nations by rising geopolitical unrest, poor and unregulated working circumstances, and environmental air pollution that impacts the native, regional, and past.

The supply of uncooked supplies for manufacturing know-how is a finite one which many don’t take into consideration as a result of solely that laptop computer is in entrance of them. We noticed this instance in the course of the current chip scarcity and the halting of lithium extraction in Jap Europe, decreasing provide for the battery business and affecting a number of industries, together with know-how. Moreover, the E-waste drawback is estimated to have a price of $62 billion and a rising alternative to reclaim and recycle these supplies into new merchandise. The present casual means of managing this poses well being and environmental points at an alarming price. By contemplating thoughtfully how these merchandise occur and the place they find yourself, we, as an business, can higher handle the influence on individuals, revenue, and the planet.

The know-how business is already recognizing that there are provide chain issues and is engaged on managing the problems. Nonetheless, shopper demand drives most of the selections. Few wish to tackle the end-of-life concern. Organizations, akin to Sustainability in AV (https://saveav.org), are working to coach their business by a worldwide community and supply assets for finish customers to coach themselves on what could be carried out and what must be thought-about. Within the meantime, take a while to cease and take into consideration the issues round you. You may shock your self as to how a lot occurs within the lifetime of that product.


Raymond Kent is an award-winning, internationally acknowledged know-how advisor working within the structure and engineering area who incessantly works with top-tier purchasers throughout a number of sectors, advising them on many subjects, together with AI, IoT, sustainability, augmented and digital actuality, and extra.