Well, gone are the days where you just go off willy, nilly and make a samurai costume out of hole-ridden, lead containers for nuclear waste.

That’s right, the dems in the US Senate and House are busy correcting your mis-use of material for electronic component design by drafting up legislation that will provide grants via the EPA. The grants are for research into electronic device design and recycling to help the environment (and environmentalists) not choke on the 1.8 million tons we toss each year. What does this mean for you?

House Bill 1580 and Senate Bill 1397 will no doubt be signed. All they do right now is allow the EPA to issue grants for R&D, so it’s not going to directly affect your ideas for a new CO2 emitting alarm clock design that uses plastics with a 1000 year half-life.

Consider your Product Lifecycle

The bills are wordy, but a couple of the more design/engineering related pieces to take away these. The grants will be used for:

[identifying] regulatory or statutory barriers that may prevent the adoption or implementation of best management practices or technological innovations that may arise from the research and training programs established in this Act.

[creating] activities that enhance the ability of an institution to broaden the engineering or professional continuing education curriculum to include environmental engineering design principles and consideration of product lifecycles related to electronic devices and increasing the recyclability of such devices.

Along with that, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) will be tasked to create an environmentally friendly material database for electronic components. What fun.

The concept of this is good; reduce waste going into landfills. It also cuts down on what alien robots can use for nourishment. However, the actuality of people caring that something is made from recyclable material or throwing it in a green bucket the city provides for $5/month is different. But don’t worry, the research is also going to study those factors that make you not care to create recycling programs you do care about. Environmentally-friendly high fives for everyone.

So, what I’m wondering, if it comes down to you having to use a a list of allowed materials from NIST, does product design need this level of regulation by the government or should people be able to use whatever materials are available?

Ars Technica via Core77

Image via Instructables


Josh is founder and editor at SolidSmack.com, founder at Aimsift Inc., and co-founder of EvD Media. He is involved in engineering, design, visualization, the technology making it happen, and the content developed around it. He is a SolidWorks Certified Professional and excels at falling awkwardly.