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A design for life

Richard Waterhouse, Intellect’s components and manufacturing services manager, spoke recently on the importance of eco design within the electronics industry on a webinar hosted by Envirowise.

Faced with the problems of good eco design, he believed that the most important stage to address was how to deal with a product at the end of its life. While the WEEE directive hasn't totally fulfilled its purpose to remove electronics from landfill, it's certainly a start in the right direction. Indeed, the WEEE directive is currently undergoing a number of revisions both nationally and in Europe.

So could the best way forward be through the implementation of individual producer responsibility (IPR)? The original producer of a product gets back the equipment he manufactured at the end of its lifecycle. Perhaps this would encourage evolution in the design stage to create products that are easier to dismantle - in turn, making them reusable? It would also allow manufacturers to get a return on their investment in good eco design.

Environmental consultation and advice for businesses is on the increase. Groups such as the government supported Envirowise are particularly crucial during the current recession, as increasingly industries are being pressurised to tighten budgets. By reducing investment in eco solutions, the long term impact is an increasing global footprint on the planet. The short term risk, however, could be similarly unpleasant as increasingly legislation looks to penalise offending manufacturers.

Chris Shaw

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