Is It Better To Repair or Replace Devices?

Posted on

Jan 3rd, 2018



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If you take a look at the most popular devices today, you’ll notice that most, if not all, of them, are very hard to repair. Unrepairable devices not only make parts harvesting and end-of-life recycling more difficult, but they also cause significant environmental waste.

These devices typically have components soldered right into the hardware, which means that users have to replace their device every time there’s a malfunction. Repairable devices, on the other hand, contain components that users can quickly repair without having to replace their whole device.

How Repairable Are Today’s Devices?

A recent study conducted by Greenpeace and iFixit between 2015 and 2017 found that the industry practice of soldering components together, coupled with design complexity has made modern devices increasingly harder to repair.

“Of all the models assessed, we found a few best-in-class products, which demonstrate that designing for repairability is possible. On the other hand, some products from Apple, Samsung, and Microsoft are increasingly being designed in ways that make it difficult for users to fix, which shortens the lifespan of these devices and adds to growing stockpiles of e-waste,” said Gary Cook, IT Sector Analyst at Greenpeace USA.

Out of all the 40 devices assessed in the study, more than 70% had batteries that were impossible or difficult to replace because of the use of adhesives and design choices. For example, both Apple’s MacBook Pro Retina laptop and Samsung’s Galaxy S8 smartphone have batteries fixed to their device panels and in most cases, the only way to repair these components is to get the devices replaced altogether.

“Electronics take a massive amount of energy, human effort, and natural resources to make,” said, Kyle Wiens, CEO of iFixit. “And yet, manufacturers produce billions more of them every year -while consumers keep them for just a few years before tossing them away. E-waste is one of the fastest-growing waste streams in the world. We should be able to make electronics a more sustainable part of our lives.”

How To Make Your Devices More Repairable

Making your devices more repairable doesn’t mean that you have to reinvent your products. The most important thing you should focus on is developing ways to make the process of repairing devices easier and affordable for your end users.

You can accomplish this by making components with high failure rates available to customers for at least seven years after the manufacture date of your product. Examples of high failure rate devices include batteries and displays.

You should also include detailed repair guides in your device packaging to help customers understand what steps they can take to repair different components in their devices, and which specialized tools they may need during the process.

Recycling Devices

Implementing hardware recycling best practices in your organization will help reduce your environmental footprint, and save money in the long run. The best way to recycle old device components is to hire a professional recycling company that specializes in the disposal of electronic waste.

When looking for a recycling company, it’s essential to only work with companies that have either R2 Solutions or e-Stewards certifications. These certifications will ensure that your customer’s data remains protected during the hardware recycling process and that your devices don’t cause any harm to the environment as they get disposed of.

Next Steps

If you would like to learn more about how to properly dispose of your electronic devices, please contact us at any time. We have certifications from R2 solutions, GSA, and the Defense Logistics Agency, and we are happy to discuss ways to keep your information safe, both while you’re repairing devices, and after you’re done with them.