Repair is recycling

In the 80’s electronic devices were repairable.  The only reason not to repair was if the device was obsolete and no longer needed.  Given enough time old junk turns into valuable antiques.  I remember Dad kicking himself for discarding a Victrola record player years after we remodeled the house and he cleaned out the side porch.

At NavComSta Stockton  and most Navy bases there is an organization called the DRMO or Defense Re-utilization and Marketing Organization.  They get all the discarded equipment, furniture and  electronics no longer needed by the command.  It would be collected on pallets and auctioned off to the highest bidder.  The electronics was melted down for the precious metals it contained.  Electronics of the time contained tiny amounts of gold and silver and even platinum.

Even today at work we collect equipment that is deemed “beyond economical repair” and it is sold, by the pound, as scrap.  Given time and money it could be repaired,  but sometimes it just takes too long and costs too much.

We claim we recycle, we are increasingly aware of environmental sustainability.  But electronics is increasingly disposable. People get a new phone every year.  Boards are cheaper to replace than to repair.  And the skills to do that repair are becoming increasingly rare.  Electronics is heading in the wrong direction, environmentally speaking.

There used to be books and magazines devoted to repair of various electronic devices like “Sams Photofacts”.  They actually would collect the schematics and parts lists for various radios and TV sets and publish them in a softcover publication.  Repair shops of the time had drawers and drawers of them.   Owners manuals had parts lists and schematics in them.  Some really old sets have a schematic glued to the inside of the cabinet.

There will always be new and exciting electronic devices,  but at the same time the AM/FM radio from 1970 would be as good, maybe better than what could be purchased new today.  Vacuum tube guitar amps are all the rage today.

Repairing something never intended to be repaired can be a fun challenge.  I remember when I had more time than money,  taking apart an electric radiator fan motor, un-sticking the stuck brushes, and putting it back together.  It was crimped shut, had to file down the metal crimps to get it apart, then beat them back to mushroom out again to seal it up.  It lasted as long as the car did after that and it did not go in the landfill.  Probably saved $100.

Repair IS recycling.




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One Response to Repair is recycling

  1. Joseph says:

    Technically repairing could be reusing as well if your not selling it back into the market, cycle points to putting through or fixing it and selling it while if you fix it for your own use it could be reuse 🙂 great article

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