“If you don’t look at the recycling when you’re designing the product, then it’s really, really difficult to recycle.”*
In 2030, manufacturers will no longer approach recycling programs as a cost to their business. Mindful that they will have to pay in the future for the recycling of the components that make up the products they sell, manufacturers will design those products to make them easier to recycle. Designing products with a view to recycling their parts in the future will not only reduce the cost of recycling but will also make manufacturing future products cheaper. For example, the process of turning sand into silicon crystals accounts for 70 to 80 percent of the energy used to make solar panels so recycling the silicon in old panels could save a lot of money on the cost of producing more solar panels in the future.
Another incentive to recycle will result from the price of the rare metals used in electronics increasing sharply as the environmental costs of mining and the unsafe disposal of these metals becomes intolerable on a global scale. The cost of safely harvesting and safely reusing those metals will also decrease significantly as recycling scales up.
Recyclable Design Specialists will be practical advisors and creativity coaches.
The Recyclable Design Specialist will advise industrial designers and engineers so that both the products they create and the processes that are used to manufacture those products are designed to make it easy and economically advantageous to recycle the parts that make up those products in the future.
What the Recyclable Design Specialist will bring to the table is a knowledge of manufacturing methods and industrial design options that takes into account both the needs of the people who buy the product today and the ways in which the product’s component parts can be used to give life to new products in the future – all while contributing to the company’s profits.
The Recyclable Design Specialist will require a strong knowledge of production and recycling technologies as well as creativity and interpersonal skills. The Recyclable Design Specialist will provide practical advice and knowledge while supporting the creativity and innovative thinking necessary to help industrial designers and engineers design and build with both today and tomorrow in mind.
* Sheila Davis, Executive Director of the Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition, http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2010/sep/03/solar-panels-ewaste