We’re putting out the Bat-Signal, electronics pros. We need your help to make an important environmental standard include repair, and therefore reality.
Two years ago, Repair.org released a report eviscerating the state of green electronics standards. Those standards dictate which products are allowed to advertise with the green “EPEAT” sticker. You would expect that products with this green label are repairable and environmentally friendly.
In some respects, they are. EPEAT products have higher levels of recycled plastics and are more energy efficient than other gadgets on the market.
Unfortunately, as a result of manufacturer intransigence, design for repair and recycling are not a part of the standard. According to Repair.org, “Despite overwhelming consensus that extending product lifespans is better for the environment, tech companies have largely blocked efforts to award (EPEAT) points for products that are easier to repair, easier to upgrade, and easier to disassemble for recycling.”
These standards are hugely important, because green electronics standards help people and organizations identify sustainable products and reward manufacturers that incorporate green designs. Eco-minded buyers—including the US government—rely on the EPEAT registry to guide billions of dollars in purchasing.
Repair.org and iFixit have been participating in these standards for nearly a decade, but frequently we are the sole voice of the public. Many non-profits that have participated in the work have lost their funding, leaving well-funded manufacturers as the dominant voices. When we propose sensible guidelines like “If you want to be gold certified, make the battery easy to remove,” we are voted down.
We can’t do this alone. We need volunteers with experience in electronics to pitch in. This is an opportunity to make a significant difference in the direction of the entire electronics industry. It’s very easy to get involved, although it does involve a time commitment. That usually means an hour or two of conference calls a week, plus one or two in-person meetings a year. The current “Common Criteria” standard development process will probably take two years, but will impact both existing and future standards.
The ideal participant would have environmental, policy, or engineering expertise in the electronics industry, and probably be retired. No one will pay you to work on this, but fortunately there aren’t any participation fees, either. All you need to do is (virtually) show up regularly and engage in discussions. No experience writing standards is required. We’ll help you get up to speed and comfortable before the process starts.
From the NSF call for applications: “There are multiple opportunities to participate in the development of this standard. Please note that there are no membership fees required for participation. Participants from any geographic region are welcome, and encouraged, to join the process.”
If you’re interested, send us your CV and availability. This is a big commitment, so don’t volunteer unless you can do it! The NSF deadline is Monday, so we need to hear from you by Friday.
Don’t have time to participate, but still think this is an important project? Mark Schaffer is the green standards expert behind that report, and he’s been representing Repair.org on the green cellphone standard. He’s set up a Patreon to fund his work. Let’s back him up! If we could raise his backing to $1500 per month, that would fund his time to represent the repair community on this new standard.