Computing/Consumer electronics

Test your knowledge: The Secret Life of Electronics

How much do you know about the natural and human resources invested in your favorite electronic device? This learning module, developed by the Sustainable Electronics Initiative, covers the design, manufacturing, consumer use, and disposal/recovery of our electronic gadgets. You can also test your knowledge by taking a quiz.

Webinar: The Circular Economy is Calling: Closing the Loop in the Smartphone Industry

April 22, 2015 – 11:00am CDT
Register at

Of the 1.9 billion mobile phones shipped worldwide in 2014, few will be recycled. Used electronics, including smartphones, represent one of the largest and fastest growing waste types around the globe. Yet with the emergence of the circular economy, innovative companies are stepping up and reusing, refurbishing and recycling products that would most likely be discarded, lessening their organization’s environmental impact and strengthening their bottom line.

Join this webinar to hear Darren Beck, Director of Environmental Initiatives at Sprint, share both the successes and challenges of applying closed-loop strategies to Sprint’s business. Then, the three finalists of the Smartphone Encore Challenge will share their winning ideas for upcycling old smartphones in new and profitable ways.

You’ll walk away understanding the potential of the circular economy in the electronics industry, and perhaps be inspired to revolutionize an industry yourself!

Future Electronics Based on Carbon Nanotubes

Read the full story from AIP Publishing.

The exceptional properties of tiny molecular cylinders known as carbon nanotubes have tantalized researchers for years because of the possibility they could serve as a successors to silicon in laying the logic for smaller, faster and cheaper electronic devices.

First of all they are tiny — on the atomic scale and perhaps near the physical limit of how small you can shrink a single electronic switch. Like silicon, they can be semiconducting in nature, a fact that is essential for circuit boards, and they can undergo fast and highly controllable electrical switching.

But a big barrier to building useful electronics with carbon nanotubes has always been the fact that when they’re arrayed into films, a certain portion of them will act more like metals than semiconductors — an unforgiving flaw that fouls the film, shorts the circuit and throws a wrench into the gears of any potential electronic device.

In fact, according to University of Illinois-Urbana Champaign professor John Rogers, the purity needs to exceed 99.999 percent — meaning even one bad tube in 100,000 is enough to kill an electronic device. “If you have lower purity than that,” he said, “that class of materials will not work for semiconducting circuits.”

Now Rogers and a team of researchers have shown how to strip out the metallic carbon nanotubes from arrays using a relatively simple, scalable procedure that does not require expensive equipment. Their work is described this week in the Journal of Applied Physics, from AIP Publishing.

Microsoft Joins Project to Promote Refurbished Computers

Read the full story at JustMeans.

From an environmental perspective, it is far more beneficial to extend the life of an old computer rather than recycle it. Re-use on a wide scale can help reduce the world’s growing e-waste stream. The demand for used computers is substantial, particularly in the emerging markets and among budget-constrained public institutions such as schools and libraries.

In a concerted effort to bolster the market for used computers, Sustainable Electronics Recycling International (SERI) is partnering with Microsoft and Chicago-based firm PC Rebuilders and Recyclers to improve incentives for both buyers and sellers of refurbished computers.

The new pilot program called the “R2 Ready for Reuse Project” will develop a searchable online database of refurbished computers that have been tagged and logged after being check for quality of performance. The project aims to bring greater transparency into the process of selling refurbished PCs, and encourage buyers to purchase the units with the confidence that they are in good working condition.


Study: Metals Used in High-Tech Products Face Future Supply Risks

Read the full story from Yale University.

In a new paper, a team of Yale researchers assesses the “criticality” of all 62 metals on the Periodic Table of Elements, providing key insights into which materials might become more difficult to find in the coming decades, which ones will exact the highest environmental costs — and which ones simply cannot be replaced as components of vital technologies…

The paper, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, encapsulates the Yale group’s five-year assessment of the criticality of the planet’s metal resources in the face of rising global demand and the increasing complexity of modern products.


5 Free Apps to Swap, Share and Sell Your Extra Stuff

Read the full post on Shareable.

The average American spent $82 per day on consumer goods last month. It’s safe to say that we’re in the grips of a powerful consumption habit.

Not surprisingly, this creates a gargantuan amount of waste. Where does all that stuff go when we’re finished with it? Too often, the landfill. In 2012, Americans generated nearly 251 million tons of trash. That’s over 1,500 pounds of trash per year for every man, woman and child in the U.S.

Sharing can not only keep tons of trash out of landfills, it can save us tons of money. If Americans cut their daily consumer goods habit by half, they could save an estimated $15,000 a year.

There’s never been a better time to share or tools to do it. Below are five apps to help you swap, share, and sell your extra stuff like a pro.