The Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive (WEEE) aims to reduce the amount of electrical and electronic equipment being produced and to encourages reducing, reusing, and recycling in the UK. Ultimately, this is forcing manufacturers to collect and recycle electronic equipment at end-of life more than ever before. Designer Ed Boaden explores the middle ground between consumer electronics and design for disassembly with his sustainable notebook, Modulus.
While initiatives like the WEEE are collectively a great thing for the environment, they can create a throbbing headache for designers. The Modulus is based around a modular design that allows for easily accessible components and ease of self-repair for environments like schools, libraries, and offices.
The tool-less disassembly allows quick access to internal components with fingernail recesses, large hand-screw caps, and snap fit connections–essentially the complete opposite of Apple’s fastening hardware. The removal of the end caps allow for a complete dismantle of the product for repair or end-of-life recycling and reuse of certain components.
All replacement parts can be sent back to the manufacturer for recycling and reuse, which follows through on the WEEE Initiative’s goals. Unlike replacing traditional storage or graphics cards, the replaced modular components are designed to be easily installed at home by the novice user.
The Modular also supports a thin client workplace community, allowing the majority of processing to be done on a central server. This ultimately allows for greater sharing capabilities and reduced risk of data loss, less need for individual notebook power and less heat emission, a thinner design for mass storage, and lower power consumption.
The reduced cost of each machine also allows for a greater possibility of a flexible working environment, allowing students or workers the ability to work remotely. While this concept might have trouble getting off the ground for anybody needing heavy process power, it could be the answer for public libraries and research-heavy institutions looking to keep things simple.