Green Tech Blog Additional Posts
Showing 21 - 36 of 36 Articles
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Appliances of the Future
 
The Electrolux Design Lab winners and more. The Electrolux Design Lab theme for 2011 was Intelligent Mobility...
Solar Roadways
 
The Solar Roadways project is working to pave roads with solar panels that you can drive on. Their long range goal is to cover all concrete and asphalt surfaces that are exposed to the sun with Solar Road Panels. They plan to start off small: driveways, bike paths, patios, sidewalks, parking lots, playgrounds, etc. This is where they hope to learn lessons and perfect the system. Once the lessons have been learned and the bugs have all been resolved, they plan to move out onto public roads.
A Geminoid
 
A Geminoid or twin-robot is designed to resemble a living person. It is controlled by an operator who through the use of advanced software can transfer facial movements and speech to the robot. For many years, robot technology has primarily been associated with factories and warehouses, but the days of thinking about robots as just 'tools' are over...
SkySails
 
Available for purchase! Easy to operate (fully automatic) the SkySail will be on many a cargo ship in the very near future.
Electric City Cars
 
Electric Urban Vehicle Inspiration...many electric cars are available now...why wait?
Eco Sport Cars
 
The greenest sport cars out or coming to market. Sports car inspiration...
LumaLive by Phillips
 
Although not exactly sustainable, this is amazing and certainly will be a part of our future. The integration of LEDs into fabric...
SmartScreen DeckerYeadon
 
DeckerYeadon of NYC has some exciting ideas for the future...
Envision's Solar Tree now charges your electric car...
 
Envision Solar’s Solar Tree and Clean Charge. Envision IS currently manufacturing solar trees for parking lots. They have signed an agreement with GM to provide its corporate sites with parking lot chargers and soon after its dealerships...
Soccer + Energy = sOccket - Exercise for Health and Light
 
According to the World Bank Millennium Goals Report, 2006 - 95% of African people are living off-grid with no access to electricity. Kicking the sOocket around for just ten minutes will light a small led lamp for three hours or charge a battery.
Airbag helmet
 
A traveling hairdryer? No. An airbag helmet for bicycle riders. Just when you started feeling like you looked cool in your bicycle helmet...
Fish sink
 
Poor Little Fish basin offers an emotional way to persuade hand washers to think about saving water, by making consumption tangible. Although the water will never fully drain out of the fish bowl, PETA is not going to run out and buy one and is trying to convince the designer to install fake fish instead of live goldfish...
MycoBond's EcoCradle
 
The co-inventor of MycoBond, Eben Bayer talks about his (much!) better-than-plastic invention. This product will replace styrofoam in the (hopefully) very near future. And the possibilities are endless...
Graphene
 
The thinnest material in the world -- will it come to the rescue? Will we create super lightweight and therefore super efficient vehicles, super efficient and indestructible solar panels...
Pedal-Powered Monorail
 
The makers of the Shweeb, down in New Zealand were just given a million dollars to take their concept from current amusement ride to urban and tourism settings. Lucky us.
A practically waterless washing machine
 
A new washing machine that uses just a cup of water, a pinch of detergent, and about 1,000 small recyclable plastic chips to clean clothes is coming to an appliance store near you, as soon as next year.
 
Showing 21 - 36 of 36 Articles
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Behind the Screens: Conflict Minerals and Toxic Waste
by Marisa Buxbaum


mining congo


Consumers in developed nations live in a world dominated by gadgets. In our pockets, iPods and Blackberries have taken up permanent residence; in our homes, laptops and televisions are considered practically essential. Some of us may marvel at the innovative feats that have turned our cell phones into mini-computers, especially given the convenience they provide. Being unable to see or understand their inner workings can give modern electronics a magical quality, but a disturbing story hides beneath the sleek exterior of modern tech.

The production of the electronics we use requires the mining of raw materials. Four of these materials are high-value minerals: gold and the “3Ts” – tungsten, tin, and tantalum (refined coltan). Gold coats the internal wiring in the guts of your computerized devices, and tungsten is used to enable the vibrate function in cell phones. Tantalum is necessary in allowing battery-powered electronics to hold a charge when unplugged from electrical outlets. Lastly, tin is a sodder essential to the manufacture of circuit boards.  All of these resources can be found in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where militant groups smuggle and tax the appropriately-named “conflict minerals,” drawing in $183 million yearly to fund their violent operations. Since 1996, more than 5.4 million people have died as a result of ethnic warfare and struggles for the Congo’s wealth of resources. Militias such as the FDLR, which profit from the illegal sale of gold and the 3Ts, terrorize miners into laboring for them – raping local women and girls, and killing those who refuse to work. If workers are paid, the average is $1 to $5 a day, and conditions are dangerous and inhumane. Child labor is frequently employed.



Above video, from the Enough Project. For a step-by-step explanation of the “Mines-to-Mobile Phone” process and details of the supply chain: www.enoughproject.org


Eliminating the use of conflict minerals in electronics production poses challenges, but none are insurmountable. From their war-torn origins, the mined minerals are shipped off to smelting refineries in Asia, where their mixture with other materials complicates efforts to trace them.  It would add a penny to the cost of a cell phone, however, if an auditing process were used to verify claims of ethical production from suppliers (see NYT's “Death by Gadget”). And while no electronics companies are currently manufacturing conflict-free, increased awareness has effected some proactive legislation. The passage of a 2010 law requires that publicly-traded companies submit annual reports to the Securities and Exchange Commission on the acquisition of component metals, and what is being done to determine whether metals sourced from Congo are indeed conflict-free (LAT's “Congo’s Conflict Minerals").

Currently, companies that use conflict minerals are not penalized under the law. But buyers of consumer electronics have the power to demand conflict-free products from manufacturing giants. Visit RaisingHopeforCongo.org to commit to buying conflict-free and sign their web form here: www.raisehopeforcongo.org. Of the 21 largest electronics manufacturers in the world, you can buy your cell phones, computers, cameras, and other gadgets from those companies that are making the most effort to go conflict-free (and avoid those that are not).


Companies with the best track record thus far:

Dell
Hewlett Packard
Intel
Microsoft
Motorola
Nokia

Companies with room for improvement:

Acer
Apple
IBM
Lenovo
LG
Philips
Research in Motion (Makers of the Blackberry)
Samsung
Sony Ericsson

Companies that have done little or nothing to go conflict-free:

Canon
Nintendo
Panasonic
SanDisk
Sharp
Toshiba

(raisehopeforcongo.org)


Congolese mining not only fuels bloodshed, but results in the displacement and killing of endangered gorilla populations. Militant groups pay no heed to the protected status of national parks, and the extraction of gold and the T3s destroys natural habitat (see “Guns, Money, and Cell Phones": www.globalissues.org). The environmental impacts of our tech-thirsty consumer culture do not end with Congo, as the manufacturing of electronics is damaging regardless of mining locale. The electronics industry thrives on disposable products – gadgets that are easily tossed away in favor of their newer, faster, and fancier replacements. The resource demands that feed this cycle are immense, and consequently, so is the resulting pollution. Take, for instance, the production of a single desktop computer, which requires 240 kg of fossil fuels – roughly ten times the weight of the computer itself. To put this in perspective, the fossil fuels necessary for most other consumer goods is roughly equal to the weight of the good itself (Source). Resource extraction for electronics manufacturing occurs globally, generating huge amounts of waste and leaving environmental degradation in its wake. Below is a graphic showing some areas where this extraction is most significant, and what materials are sought after:



conflict minerals map
Source


These materials must be processed in factories before they can become the component parts of our electronics, exposing workers to toxic solvents, flame retardants, and mercury. While this labor is now largely outsourced, it once occurred in our own backyards. According to a Johns Hopkins study in 1992, female IBM employees in Silicon Valley suffered high rates of miscarriage that were correlated with solvent exposure in computer chip manufacturing – 2.8 times greater than those who were unexposed (see storyofstuff.org and www.deseretnews.com). These days, the poisonous chemicals are handled mostly by workers in developing countries. The average computer workstation contains over 700 compounds, of which many are harmful: lead, cadmium, barium, bromine, and carbon black, to name a few (Source). Upon reaching the end of their lifespan, most spent electronics return to those nations in which they were processed, such as India and China, completing the toxic exposure cycle during disassembly. The U.S. alone generates 3 million tons of electronic waste yearly, and the EPA estimates that trashed tech is growing at two to three times the rate of any other waste source (Source 1&2).  Of the measly 13% that is collected for recycling, roughly 50-80% is shipped overseas. In Mustafabad, India, citizens attempt to scratch out a living by burning this “E-Waste” into its constituent minerals, allowing vaporized solvents, flame retardants, and even acid to be breathed in. Sadly, children will often participate in this dangerous activity.






Some manufacturers are making progress, implementing “takeback” programs in an effort to recycle E-Waste more responsibly. The Electronics TakeBack Coalition has compiled a recycling “report card” for major electronics companies and retailers here, so consumers can make informed decisions about which ones to support: www.electronicstakeback.com. To ensure that your electronic devices are properly recycled – and not dumped in developing countries – look for an E-Stewards recycler here: e-stewards.org.



Workshop for Companies:

BSR Conference 2011- A broad range of companies are begining to face conflict mineral reporting requirements. The question remains how best to go about integrating this issue into supply chain sustainability programs and gather needed information, no matter where a company sits in the supply chain. This session will use specific industry case studies in a workshop format to lay out some of the challenges that companies face and how they might develop solutions. November2 - San Fran. www.bsr.org



Resources:

1) Overview of Conflict Minerals, from The Enough Project’s Raise Hope for Congo: www.raisehopeforcongo.org
2) How a certification process can eliminate the use of conflict minerals: “Certification: the Path to Conflict-Free Minerals in Congo.” Sasha Lezhnev and David Sullivan, 2011. The Enough Project: enoughproject.org
3) GoodGuide’s guide to buying an ethically-produced cell phone, based on social, environmental, and health analyses: www.goodguide.com
4) Wall Street Journal article from this April on the conflict mineral disclosure legislation: wsj.com
5) Recycle it Right: the Electronic TakeBack Coalition’s guide to recycling your electronics: www.electronicstakeback.com

*** Conflict-Free Smelter (CFS) Program: Compliant Smelter List. A new fund backed by Intel, HP and the GE Foundation aims to lower the cost for smelters that seek to prove they're conflict-free: www.conflictfreesmelter.org
**** Public-Private Alliance for Responsible Minerals Trade. U.S. State Dept: www.state.gov



 

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timothy tope
Posts: 2
Comment
school project
Reply #2 on : Tue May 27, 2014, 17:15:25
What happens to the conflict minerals when we throw them away or dispose of are old cell phones and stuff I was looking for the answer but I cant find it on anything
ALEXIS
Posts: 2
Comment
idk
Reply #1 on : Wed May 08, 2013, 18:47:44
hi
Green Tech Blog Additional Posts
Showing 21 - 36 of 36 Articles
< Previous 12 Next >
Appliances of the Future
 
The Electrolux Design Lab winners and more. The Electrolux Design Lab theme for 2011 was Intelligent Mobility...
Solar Roadways
 
The Solar Roadways project is working to pave roads with solar panels that you can drive on. Their long range goal is to cover all concrete and asphalt surfaces that are exposed to the sun with Solar Road Panels. They plan to start off small: driveways, bike paths, patios, sidewalks, parking lots, playgrounds, etc. This is where they hope to learn lessons and perfect the system. Once the lessons have been learned and the bugs have all been resolved, they plan to move out onto public roads.
A Geminoid
 
A Geminoid or twin-robot is designed to resemble a living person. It is controlled by an operator who through the use of advanced software can transfer facial movements and speech to the robot. For many years, robot technology has primarily been associated with factories and warehouses, but the days of thinking about robots as just 'tools' are over...
SkySails
 
Available for purchase! Easy to operate (fully automatic) the SkySail will be on many a cargo ship in the very near future.
Electric City Cars
 
Electric Urban Vehicle Inspiration...many electric cars are available now...why wait?
Eco Sport Cars
 
The greenest sport cars out or coming to market. Sports car inspiration...
LumaLive by Phillips
 
Although not exactly sustainable, this is amazing and certainly will be a part of our future. The integration of LEDs into fabric...
SmartScreen DeckerYeadon
 
DeckerYeadon of NYC has some exciting ideas for the future...
Envision's Solar Tree now charges your electric car...
 
Envision Solar’s Solar Tree and Clean Charge. Envision IS currently manufacturing solar trees for parking lots. They have signed an agreement with GM to provide its corporate sites with parking lot chargers and soon after its dealerships...
Soccer + Energy = sOccket - Exercise for Health and Light
 
According to the World Bank Millennium Goals Report, 2006 - 95% of African people are living off-grid with no access to electricity. Kicking the sOocket around for just ten minutes will light a small led lamp for three hours or charge a battery.
Airbag helmet
 
A traveling hairdryer? No. An airbag helmet for bicycle riders. Just when you started feeling like you looked cool in your bicycle helmet...
Fish sink
 
Poor Little Fish basin offers an emotional way to persuade hand washers to think about saving water, by making consumption tangible. Although the water will never fully drain out of the fish bowl, PETA is not going to run out and buy one and is trying to convince the designer to install fake fish instead of live goldfish...
MycoBond's EcoCradle
 
The co-inventor of MycoBond, Eben Bayer talks about his (much!) better-than-plastic invention. This product will replace styrofoam in the (hopefully) very near future. And the possibilities are endless...
Graphene
 
The thinnest material in the world -- will it come to the rescue? Will we create super lightweight and therefore super efficient vehicles, super efficient and indestructible solar panels...
Pedal-Powered Monorail
 
The makers of the Shweeb, down in New Zealand were just given a million dollars to take their concept from current amusement ride to urban and tourism settings. Lucky us.
A practically waterless washing machine
 
A new washing machine that uses just a cup of water, a pinch of detergent, and about 1,000 small recyclable plastic chips to clean clothes is coming to an appliance store near you, as soon as next year.
 
Showing 21 - 36 of 36 Articles
< Previous 12 Next >