On the topic of FULL LIFE CYCLE and being "green"...
Q1: How is Recompute sustainable? Is it only because the case is made of cardboard?
Yes, this is a cardboard computer case, but it was made using the full life cycle design as its guiding ideology... So what does that mean?
1) The Recompute manufacturing process causes a drastic reduction of infrastructure, resources, tooling , labor, processes, and energy needed to make a the final product. By being more efficient with how we make things, we will reduce the consumption of resources used in the manufacturing process. Recompute could be manufactured from a variety of different materials and still follow the guidelines of Full Life Cycle design and still follow the guidelines of sustainable design.
2) Like people, objects live a life and eventually reach an end of life. As we are seeing, "throwing things away" is not an acceptable solution (especially for electronic objects aka: E-Waste). The main issue is that E-waste is not properly disposed of, causing a global pollution issue. By having an end of life plan, we can better control this problem. Recompute's design facilitates easy dismantling therefore making it not only easier to recycle, but increasing the likelihood of it happening. Finally what parts are left to recycle are minimal. Even if a Recompute is not recycled, the impact of the remainder is significantly less than of a standard computer.
For a more detailed answer read more about the Full Life Cycle Design.
Q2: How long will it last?
The average computer lasts 3 to 5 years. It is the ability of the hardware of a computer to run software that ages a computer. Essentially it is the aging or failure of the hardware that determines how long it will last. Computers built with quality hardware that have great performance today will live a longer useful life tomorrow. Recomputes are built with up to date hardware that will last the upper range of its life span and beyond.
Q3: Where do I recycle my old computer? Can I send my old computer to you?
We are glad to take back any Recompute product for proper recycling, however we cannot take any other computer products as we are not recycler.
If you need to find out where to recycle your old computer, find a certified Recycler in your area. If you cannot find a local recycler, many of the major computer manufactures already have take-back and recycling programs in place. Please check their websites; often it is a free service if you ask.
To learn more about E-waste and recycling please visit the Electronics Take Back Coalition.
Q4: Isn’t more sustainable to just reuse my existing case?
Yes, this is true, it is always more sustainable to take advantage of existing objects and make them last as long as possible, rather than the fabrication of new ones. Unfortunately, we live in a throwaway society; until we shift how we go about consuming the objects that we do, the cycle will continue. This question is often posed by an individual who builds their own computers; it is important for them to remember that not everybody builds and upgrades their own computers. Let’s look at a parallel example: We are constantly buying new cars, why? It is cheaper and more environmentally friendly to repair our existing cars. There are some people out there who do just that, however the majority of people can’t maintain their cars themselves and would rather spend the money on a new one.
On a second note, many of the major computer manufacturers use propriety hardware in their machines, meaning upgrading parts is difficult if not imposable. In the end it is easier to buy a new machine, which is what these companies want you to do as it is their business model. We could go on about this but we think you get the point..
Q5: The case is not the toxic part of computers it is the circuit boards, so what’s the big deal about the case?
This is absolutely true; the circuit boards are the most toxic part of the computer. However, the main issue it not the whether the parts are toxic, it is rather what is happening to them once they reach the end of their life. A major part of the E-waste problem is that current case designs make it difficult and time consuming to dismantle the electronics from the case. Because of this many computers (and other electronics for that matter) are not dismantled to be recycled locally. The the incentives are low and many do not find dismantling cost effective. What then happens is old computers are shipped overseas to developing nations, where the poor dismantle everything, pile up the case materials and burn the circuit boards to extract the precious metals (gold, silver and copper) at the same time poisoning themselves with the other toxins on the boards.
The design of Recompute makes it easy to dismantle the electronics from the case. It can be done in just a few minutes with no tools. By making it easier to dismantle, we increase the opportunity to properly recycle E-waste domestically. The case that remains requires no further dismantling as it is cardboard which can be recycled with other paper goods.
A quick note on the manufacturing side: by making the cases out of cardboard we drastically reduce the amount of resources it takes to manufacture the cases. It is our way of setting an example of how to conserve resources in manufacturing that add up to a big impact in the future.
Q6: Is it made from recycled cardboard and/or recycled electronic components?
Recompute is not made from 100% recycled cardboard. We seriously looked into it, and the main problem was that of the consistency and the quality of the recycled cardboard. Most were inadequate to use for this application, and would make for an overall lower quality product (in terms of functionality, durability, and aesthetics). Do note this: Cardboard is made from brown craft paper, which in its nature already has approximately 50% recycled content in it.
The components used in all Recompute models are new. Many have asked if we take components from old computers and install them in our cases, therefore “recycling” the parts. The truth is that is a lot of work to do. Also, why would we take old parts from a perfectly good case (that then gets discarded) and transfer them to ours. See where this is going?