Americans replace their cell phones on average every two years. E-waste has gone from a problem affecting only major developed countries to a full blown epidemic worldwide. In the US, many states are trying to encourage proper disposal of this toxic garbage by enacting laws like California’s Cellphone Recycling Act, which makes it illegal to dump cellular devices in landfill waste sites. Unfortunately, recent studies have proven that laws like this have been largely ineffective in curbing dumping.
One of the better solutions to this increasing waste problem is a production process coined “Cradle to Cradle”, or C2C by Walter Stahel. In 2002, German chemist Michael Braungart, and U.S. architect William McDonough authored a popular book of the same name. Traditional production models, stress the facilitation of sound, responsible practice in sourcing and manufacturing goods but overlook the responsibility the business has in collecting and disposing of its products once they become obsolete.
Product engineering relies on a basic understanding idea that all things possess a certain degree of obsolesce, the concept of C2C address this truth, and has been implemented by multiple blue chip companies like BMW, DSM, and Honda. At the current time of writing, none of the major cell phone manufacturers like Samsung, Nokia, RIM or Apple, employ C2C solutions for their products. As the rate of cell phone adoption and technology products in general, ticks upward, hopefully, we will see all the major manufacturers of electronics, not just cellular phones, adopt Cradle-to-Cradle policies in the years to come. Of course, if we the consumer demanded it, well, then the delivery of these processes would happen a whole lot sooner.