“Over 500 pounds of raw material is used to make a smartphone” – Interview with Kyle Wiens
Organized at 4:00 PM GMT on 21st Feb, 2018
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Kylee Neniska and Nadine Cavusoglu have summarized the interview and put together a set of interesting quotes.
QUICK SUMMARY & QUOTES
KYLE WIENS, iFIXIT
iFixit is a community of people that are teaching each other how to fix things.
- Our mission is to enable everybody in the world to fix everything they own, whether it’s their phone, bicycle or cars
- We’re a collection of information like Wikipedia where everything is created by the community, is public, creative licensed and can be improved by hitting the edit button.
- We started with electronics because of the amount of raw material that goes into making electronics and its impact on the environment.
Over 500 pounds of raw material is used to make a smartphone.
- If we can figure out a way to make all the cellphones in the world last twice as long, we would have to make half as many to get the technology in the hands of everybody.
- We got started looking at the overall problem of waste saying what can we do to systematically create incentives all the way through the system that will cause people to do the right thing (maybe out of self interest).
- We want to change the system but not through environmental advocacy but by giving people an easy option that happens to be good for the environment.
- On the iPhone 6 for example, we’ve had over 1.4 million people use our iPhone battery replacement kit. So you end up multiplying that by 500 pounds of raw material and you have a significant environmental impact.
iFixit’s medium term goal is to help 1 billion people fix things annually.
- We have built a system of troubleshooting, diagnosis, community support, information and parts. We have been systematically moving through the material economy product by product.
- We’ve done that for about 36,000 products so far, and we’re constantly adding more things.
- We fund ourselves through sales of repair parts. For example, we are the largest retailer of Apple parts in the U.S.
Electronics buyback program is a good thing, but we do need to be a little weary about the product that goes back to the OEM.
- We believe it is hugely important to get old cellphones to people who will use them or need them. It is hugely environmentally damaging to have an old cellphone sitting in your drawer losing value because that means that someone in the world would like the cellphone is going to go and buy a new one rather than buying your used one
- Manufactures may not have incentives that are aligned with the environment. I have heard of cases of OEMs buying their product back and then shredding it to keep it off the market and drive more people to buy new products.
- Apple is notorious for requiring recyclers to destroy perfectly good products.
There’s a very exciting movement called “Right to Repair”. It is modeled on right to repair car law, which was originally passed in the 1970s as part of the Clean Air Act. The law essentially gives independent mechanics access to same information, tools and parts that car dealerships have.
- There are currently 18 states that are pushing for Right to Repair legislation for electronics. Washington, New Hampshire, Massachusetts and New York have already held hearings about this.
- From iFixit website 17,000 people have used and downloaded a file for a tiny plastic piece of a coffee grinder so it can get 3D printed and fix a 100-dollar coffee grinder instead of throwing it away.