Today I’ll be presenting about e-waste on the Penn campus for my former department. Penn folks are invited, but I don’t think it’s open to the public just because of space considerations. As usual, I’ll be talking about how e-waste came to be such a problem and why recycling is not simply the environmentally just thing to do, but also a smart hedge against volatile commodities markets. I’ll be making the argument that any country that wants to be a serious player in tech manufacturing ought to work on making new electronics out of old electronics.
I’ve done a little bit of reading to catch myself up on the changes in the rare earth market and e-waste landscape since I finished my capstone project. I found that the rare earth shortage I wrote about has lead manufacturers to find ways to use less of them in the past six months, and now prices have dropped quite a bit. They are still something like 8-12 times higher than they were a few years ago, but this new volatility has investors and mining companies on the move yet again. This kind of instability doesn’t seem like a tenable foundation for a major industry. We’ll see what happens next.
Here’s an announcement about the talk from the Vitale Digital Media Lab at the Penn Library.
Tagged: e-waste, rare earths, speaking
Dear friends, colleagues, strangers and spammers,
Around Monday-ish, I’ll have a 2nd draft of my Capstone project for a Master of Environmental Studies ready for reading. I (mostly) have the readers I need to get a grade, but I’d love to have input from more folks. You are qualified if you can read and if you have any interest at all in technology and/or the earth. One friend has already commented that my writing style is kind of journalistic and that it’s almost an enjoyable read. If you have the time and inkling to read about 45 pages of double-spaced content about e-waste, rare earths, and environmental justice and policy, please comment or email me! My final revisions are due May 3, though I might be able to make minor tweaks up until May 10 or so.
Tagged: e-waste, rare earths
Update: I’ve done a bunch more reading on this since I wrote it and I don’t totally agree with everything I said anymore. Specifically, the monopoly was a long time coming and export quotas have been ticking down since 2005. Yes, the market failed, but China’s export quotas may have as much to do with protecting natural resources as sending a message to the market. Will file an update soon.
Today we got some awesome lulz and a few, well, less awesome, being the first day of the fourth month which is dedicated to chicanery and such.
Tonight I was reading up on mining and recycling of rare earth metals like the stuff in super strong magnets, wind turbines, hybrid car batteries, compact fluorescents and LEDs. I found a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report about rare earths in the defense supply chain. Strangely, it was published on April Fools Day one year ago.
Tagged: e-waste, rare earths, thesis