Dell Says the Circular Economy Is Good for Business: Q&A with Michael Murphy

Read the full story in Environmental Leader.

At Dell, obsolete electronics are viewed as a resource rather than waste. In North America, the Dell Reconnect program with Goodwill Industries accepts computer equipment of any brand for refurbishment or recycling. Since 2008, the company reports that it has collected 1.6 billion pounds of electronics from its global take-back programs.

Scaling up is essential, especially to meet aggressive goals for incorporating post-consumer recycled content (PCR) into products, according to Michael Murphy, vice president of global product compliance engineering and environmental affairs at Dell Technologies. Murphy will be talking about the circular economy at the 2017 Environmental Leader Conference in June. Recently we caught up with him to find out how the world’s largest technology recycler is closing the loop.

Food packaging gets smart – and poses a recycling nightmare

Read the full story in The Guardian.

Use of electronics in packaging is on the rise, raising questions about the recyclability of everyday products.

Apple Forces Recyclers to Shred All iPhones and MacBooks

Read the full story at Motherboard.

Apple released its Environmental Responsibility Report Wednesday, an annual grandstanding effort that the company uses to position itself as a progressive, environmentally friendly company. Behind the scenes, though, the company undermines attempts to prolong the lifespan of its products.

Apple’s new moonshot plan is to make iPhones and computers entirely out of recycled materials by putting pressure on the recycling industry to innovate. But documents obtained by Motherboard using Freedom of Information requests show that Apple’s current practices prevent recyclers from doing the most environmentally friendly thing they could do: Salvage phones and computers from the scrap heap.


Google Request Exacerbates South Carolina Water Wars

Read the full story in Environmental Leader.

Google has requested 1.5 million gallons of groundwater per day to cool the servers at its Berkeley County facility, hoping to draw the water from the county’s aquifer. The company already uses about 4 million gallons of surface water per day, writes the Post & Courier (via Mashable). Google has studied various options for cooling its servers and has found that pumping groundwater was the best solution.

The request comes at a time when a commercial boom in the area has led to companies (and residents) using water at a faster rate than the aquifers can replenish. Scientists are currently studying the area’s water situation, attempting to determine how much water from the aquifers can be used before depleting supplies of groundwater.

Will wearable technology destroy advances in recycling?

Read the full story in GreenBiz.

While the products vary widely, wearable technologies have one thing in common. Users depend on battery power to use the devices wherever they go. Batteries are incorporated into products using glue or through full integration into the products’ frames. This design approach reduces manufacturing costs and decreases the size and weight of the end product, a huge advantage for the user.

But the design also makes it virtually impossible to remove the batteries and successfully reclaim the constituent metals. It is much more difficult to detach and disassemble the technology from a garment or product than from a cell phone or power tool. It often involves two or more steps: first, the wearable device must be removed from the garment. Then, the battery must be removed from the wearable device.

Innovative Honey Bee Phone App Helps Monitor Hive Health

From U.S. EPA’s Science Matters newsletter:

EPA kicked off a citizen science research project using the app HiveScience [iOS, Android]. The pilot program enables select beekeepers to submit hive health reports and honey samples to EPA for analysis. This data helps researchers investigate biomarkers of immunity found in honey, and relate that data to bee colony survival over the winter. Scientists at USDA’s Agricultural Research Service and Bayer Crop Science are enthusiastic about this project because it provides an inexpensive, novel approach for beekeepers to assess the health of their hives with minimal effort. The project is launching a limited rollout with the Eastern Missouri Beekeeper Association, a regional group with a history of participation in honey bee-related citizen science projects. If successful, EPA may involve a larger audience later this fall.