Incommunicado E-Waste session

Moving WEE up the Ladder of Lansink: innovative approaches to waste prevention through software, hardware, and financial interventions.

Overview of the INCOMMUNICADO Session
The INCOMMUNICADO session is the first of three “discussion meetings” with interested stakeholders and those with experience in thinking about and working on these kinds of issues. The more general discussion meeting and brainstorming session. We hope thereafter to organise a second meeting around hardware questions, prevention, reuse, and recycling, and financial-institutional boundary conditions.

We are inviting participation of interested stakeholders, advocates, and specialists from the private, public, and NGO sector, and from development co-operation; the ICT industry, environmental and CSI (MVO) sectors, and the ICT sector itself. Between six and 10 “discussants” are asked to prepare short presentations followed by a facilitated brainstorming.
WEEE at INCOMMUNICADO, 16 June; 14:00-16:00
14:00-14:05 welcome
Introduction to WASTE, brief introductions of those present
14:05-14:15 introduction and orientation Goals of the session, programme overview
Rules of the road
Short introductions by the discussants and other participants
14:15-14:40 key questions Each of the discussants has prepared a short answer to one question to stimulate discussion
14:40-15:10 three hypotheses; presentation and brainstorming Introduction of the three hypotheses. Discussion. what kinds of research, actions, interventions per hypothesis
15:10-15:40 break-out workgroups each of the three sub-groups, software, hardware, and institutional-financial, continues with brainstorming and priority-setting
15:40-15:55 groups report back, main conclusions, follow-up ideas
15:55-16:00 closing next steps, follow-up meetings, the way forward.
Presentors: Jeroen Ijgosse, WASTE, Facilitator; Anne Scheinberg, WASTE, co-organiser; Kiwako Mogi, WASTE, co-organiser; Arnold vd Klundert, Director, WASTE, discussant, hardware hypothesis; Portia Sinnott, Micro Services Plus, discussant, hardware hypothesis; Stephen Wildeboer, OS-OSS, discussant, software/OSS hypothesis; Edwin Koosa, Ventus Project Management, discussant, institutional hypothesis; Joost Helberg; Vereniging Open Source Nederland, discussant, software/OSS hypothesis; Rishab Gosh, University Maastricht MERIT, discussant, software/OSS and institutional hypothesis; Kees Veerman, VROM, discussant, hardware hypothesis (pending confirmation); Caroline St. Mard, ACRR, discussant, hardware hypothesis (pending confirmation)
Hypotheses for discussion
The session is built around discussion of three hypotheses, which we are seeking to explore further through collaborative research with other organisations and individuals.
Hypothesis 1: Closed or licensed software contributes to the rapid rate of replacement and discarding of ICT equipment and peripherals. Therefore limitation or reduction of the hegemony (dominance, monopoly) of licensed closed software and migration to open system software (OSS) would lower the rate of replacement and disposal.

Sub-hypothesis 1.1: a partial or complete migration to open system software (OSS ) results in less intensive and more efficient use of hardware, causing less stress on the hardware and slowing the failure rate for both machines and specific components.

Sub-hypothesis 1.2: Use of open system software avoids in part or in full the ratcheting-up effect associated with licensed software, especially that of Microsoft, since each (Windows) software upgrade requires more powerful hardware, better peripherals, etc.

Hypothesis 2: Current patterns of proprietary and commercialised design and manufacturing practice in relation to ICT — that is, computers and peripherals and other electronic and electric devices — inhibits repair, reuse, replacement, rebuilding and upgrading of individual hardware components, and, this increases the rate of replacement and discarding of these machines. These same design approaches also inhibit safe and environmentally friendly dismantling of ICT items. Therefore, a shift to more open design hardware (ODH) and the use of generic and replaceable components would shift the balance towards more possibilities for repair and reuse, and, when this is no longer possible, to safe dismantling and maximum recycling.

Example 1, repair-friendliness: it should not be necessary to replace a whole computer when the motherboard, power supply, or hard drive goes down. And it should be possible for a reasonably technically inclined user to replace these items.

Example 2: if there were an easy and reliable way to replace a serial bus with a USB bus, a lot of older laptops or computers could be more attractive for resale.

Example 3: it should be possible to dismantle a computer without being exposed to risks from toxic substances in cards, boards, or batteries.

Hypothesis 3: Institutional and financial practice reinforce the tendency to replace and dispose of used ICT equipment much more often than is necessary, causing high rates of discarding and disposal. This looks to be the case in two specific areas, tax rates for amortisation and depreciation on the one hand, and availability of guarantees and insurance products on the other.

Example 1: if the tax rules required amortisation and depreciation in five rather than three years, would this lead to a reduction of 40% in the discarding and replacement rate for electronic equipment?

Example 2: if a five-year guarantee were available — either automatically or for purchase at time of acquiring the ICT equipment, what effect would this have on the quantities of ICT items disposed?

Example 3: if batteries and components had a guarantee of 1-2 years, what effect would this have?