I am typing this on my 2009 MacBook. My 17 year old stepson upgraded it this weekend with a new (solid state) hard drive and new memory, so it is has been given a new lease of life and hopefully it has a couple more years left in it.
As he was performing the upgrade surgery at the kitchen table, unscrewing the back, taking out the components, replacing them with others, he was telling me about the problem with the new Macs. You can’t upgrade the hard drive and memory. It’s all locked down. So when it’s gone, it’s gone. “And of course that is not very environmentally friendly”, he said.
I was reminded of this this evening, reading the results of a European Commission survey from July this year. Across the EU, 66% of people would be willing to pay more for a product if its guarantee of reliability was extended to five years. More than nine out of ten people think that the expected lifespan of products should be indicated. And almost half of respondents had decided not to have a faulty product repaired in the past 12 months because the repair costs were too high.
I looked up about the unrepairability of Macs. iFixIt gave the new MacBook Pros 1 out of 10 for repairability.
Which lead me to think – we now have energy efficiency ratings for products such as washing machines, ovens etc. Should we have a lifespan and repairability rating for products too? And a recyclability at end of life score. This is key to the lifecycle impact of a product. We need products made in such a way, as they used to be, that one part can be replaced when it has reached the end of its life, rather than throwing the whole thing away. And we need the leading manufacturers to take responsibility for designing and manufacturing in a responsible way.