A great deal of the world’s manufacturing costs are significantly distorted. Most of the manufacturing that goes on is entirely inconsiderate of the costs of disposal of the items in the end of their expected life. Additionally, costs are driven lower by designing products for minimal service life and without regard for quality and reliability. Design engineers are constantly required to lower costs but rarely if ever to improve reliability, repair, and reuse. And very very rarely make the products easily disposable. Perhaps the biggest of these is the end of life disposition of nuclear plants. The US Navy can offer testimony in this regard as they are the biggest and most prolific user long term of nuke power plants.
Manufacturers must stop making throwaway products and make them for the long term. For many years now we have all heard of our society being a disposable society or throwaway oriented. Already we have seen some moves to reduce the use of single-use plastics and efforts to foster greater reuse, repair and recycle.
Landfills and junkyards are being filled with valuable resources if a good effective way to reuse and recycle them could be found.
Part of this solution is based on educating consumers to stop throwing away working items and to recycle and offer up for reuse items that are still usable but no longer desired. Consumers must demand higher quality, longer-lasting products. And they too must share in the burden of improving our use of natural resources.
We must make the cost of disposal or recycling the responsibility of the manufacturer by requiring the manufacturer to repair or dispose of their products.
The desired or intended results are these;
- create new jobs in the disassembly and disposal process.
- Manufacturers have an incentive to design better, trouble-free products that are specifically designed for long life and low or zero costs to repair and keep in good shape.
- Benefits to the environment
- Reduced consumption of natural resources
Almost all manufacturers must now deal with a bottom-line driven by a desire to maximize profits. So to foster better design, longer-lasting products the bottom line for the manufacturers must include the proper service and disposal costs.
Basically buying a car is, in reality, a lease. The consumer is responsible only for consumables, electricity or fuel and oil. The manufacturer has to pay for all repairs and recycling or disposal of the vehicle at the end of life.
Home appliances must be returned to the manufacturer for repair and reuse/recycle/disposal. Consumers can ship at no cost the appliances back to the manufacturer or the manufacturer can send a repair/service team to the house to keep the appliances in service.
Paper is one of the better products to recycle. Cardboard boxes are certainly reusable. Many homes have a large selection of Amazon shipping boxes that are in many cases perfectly reusable. why are these not reused? Obviously, it is cheaper for Amazon to buy new ones rather than find a way to reuse them. We used to have deposits on glass bottles for soda. Can this be reinstated and made mandatory? $for a small box? More for large boxes? Damaged ones still could be recycled.
If plastic is not already recycled it should certainly be designed so as to be more recycle friendly. Again, deposits on plastic items and reuse/recycle on a per pound basis could move this along.
Why are not all metals required to be reused? Steel and aluminum are easily reused and widely used. Reuse should be a given for these resources.
Concrete, asphalt, wood, are all easily recyclable or even converted as feedstock to other products.
The supposed benefits of capitalism are being distorted and shifted since most manufacturers are not paying the full cost of producing their products. In this respect, producing means the final disposition of the product and not just the sale. This is a management problem. It is not a labor problem. Almost everything can be repaired, reused, and recycled. The reason it does not has to do with the costs and benefits of doing so. We must improve the incentives using our best tools and efforts, bring capitalism to bear and require full accounting for manufacturers.