Battery recycling in Lincoln

In what may be a first for a supermarket in New Zealand, the Lincoln New World now offers a battery recycling service.  The scheme is an initiative of Lincoln Envirotown and has funding from the Sustainable Initiatives Fund (SIFT).  Dave Fitzjohn, the project manager at Lincoln Envirotown, has been the driving force behind this worthwhile scheme.

Ecotech Services is proud to be associated with this battery recycling initiative. 

Battery collection centre at Lincoln New World.
Photo supplied




Moore’s Law for corporate computer repair

xkcd tells it like it is.

Given the amount of stuff coming through for recycling from our corporate clients this pretty much sums it up.



Sustainable Business Network membership

Ecotech Services has now joined the Sustainable Business Network.  As a company that is  addressing the environmental effects of e-technology we want be a part of a network of like minded businesses.  SBN gives us this opportunity along with a number of other benefits.

As part of the membership package of SBN we were offered an online sustainability assessment at getsustonline.  It establishes a baseline measurement of sustainability for our company. Our ranking was given as 17 out of 30, classed as good. 

Community Recycling Network membership

Ecotech Services is pleased to have been accepted as an associate member of the Community Recycling Network  (CRN).  Both Ecotech Services and CRN are working towards the goal of zero waste to landfill but while CRN has a broad mandate Ecotech Services has a narrower focus on zero e-waste to landfill.

We hope to share our knowledge and expertise on e-waste with the membership of CRN to achieve our respective goals.


A throwaway society

We really are in a throwaway society.  We have  been calling it that since the 1950s and all of this technology of ours is an increasing part of the throwaway society.

I had a Canon PIXMA MG2960 ink jet printer/scanner come in for recycling.  I can’t find any date code on it without stripping it down but it looked brand spanking new.

Apparently the paper was not feeding.  I was going to see if it was fixable but it had no ink cartridges.  I then jumped online and checked it out.  It sells for a mere $32.99!  And it is still a current model!  I did know that these low end inkjet printers are cheap but I just can’t get used to the idea of these low prices.  These printers sell for less than the minimum service fee that most repair companies charge out.

This is nothing new of course.  Back in the early 2000s I worked for a company that did a lot of printer repairs, including low end inkjets.  The minimum service fee was $33.75.  It got to the stage that we had to charge that fee up front because we were left with too many cheap inkjet printers that the customers did not want to have repaired.  So not only was the company out of pocket for the time taken to do the diagnostics for a quote but there was also the disposal cost of the unwanted printer.

It is easy to see why the amount of e-waste is rising and the repair industry is in decline. We really are in a throwaway society.



Twitter account

Ecotech Services now has an account on Twitter, the microblogging social media site.  The nature of our work means that it will not be used very often.

Electrical appliance safety testing

Ecotech Services now offers electrical safety testing (test and tag) for plug in appliances both on site and delivered to our workshop.  This is a logical extension to the work that we have been doing to date.

Alan Liefting, the founder and Managing Director of Ecotech Services, has extensive experience with the safety of electrical appliances: “About 99% of the safety issues can be discovered with a visual inspection.  The other 1% are picked up with PAT testing and knowledge of appliance reliability.”

Anecdotal evidence and first hand experiences by Alan Liefting suggests that  there are a number of “cowboys” carrying out electrical safety testing.  Ecotech Services is committed to offering a high quality service and improving electrical safety rather than maximising profits.

See our electrical safety testing services page and the electrical safety page in our knowledge base for more information.

A missing screw

A Philips 42TA2800 LCD TV came in for recycling.
“It works” the customer said, “It is just the power switch.”
The actual plastic power switch actuator was missing and you could see that the power switch circuit board was just dangling off the cables.  It looks like they were poking the pcb mounted power switch (two in series) to get it to turn on.  I don’t think they had the remote control for it.

After taking it apart I discovered this:

Photo of the rear of the power switch circuit board

The power switch circuit board is positioned to try and show the lack of a second screw ever having been present in the plastic support.

There was ever only one screw holding the power switch circuit board in place.  The other was never fitted!  So the plastic support broke.  Not surprisingly. This is a power switch.  Something that is often abused.  And in this case it had to do a lot of work because of the lack of a remote.

So what happened here Philips?  Are these TVs not made in highly automated factories with all sorts of quality checking including the use of image recognition?  So did this one slip past the inspections?   Or is this inbuilt obsolescence?  Or are you saving one screw and one extra assembly operation to save a fraction of a cent?

Get back to me on it please Philips.  Thanks.

Anyway, talking about customers and switches and faults brought back some memories. When the customer said “It is just the switch” I was reminded of my days repairing the old school CRT monitors and the even earlier days of repairing CRT TVs.  Customers would sometimes give their diagnosis as “It is just the switch” or “One of the guns has gone”.  It got the stage where I thought customers think that a CRT TV or monitor only consists of a CRT and a switch!  They don’t know that there are power supplies, HV stages, signal processing circuits all containing resistors, capacitors, semiconductors, wires, cables, connections etc and all of which can fail.






It is hard to do but don’t do it

Check out these 300mm long cables that came out of some gear that we recycled!

image of three short power cords with a label saying "WARNING DO NOT OPERATE UNLESS CORD IS FULLY UNCOILED"

Yep! Like everything else on the internet it is for real. Got to be because it is in full colour!

I managed, with some difficulty, to get three tight coils out of  it.  The label is a complete waste of time, and I think some of the other ones I came across did not have the labels.

Some of you are probably wondering why you see these warning labels on cables, especially extension leads and retractable vacuum cleaner leads. It is due to the temperature rating of the cable.  Most cables used on appliances are PVC sheathed and PVC has a maximum temperature rating of 105°C.  If the cable is coiled up and has a load plugged into it it will heat up more than if it was uncoiled.  How much the cable heats up depends on how tightly it is coiled, the current though the cable, the resistance of the cable, the air flow (if any) though the coiled cable, and the ambient temperature.

We can do some maths on it.

Total resistance of the cable (300mm long with two conductors of 0.75 mm2):

R = ρ L/A = 1.68 x 10-8 x (2 x 0.3)/0.75 x 10-6 = 0.013 Ω

Power dissipated at the maximum loading of 10 amps:

P = I2 x R = 102 x 0.013 = 1.3 W

That does not equate to a lot of heat.  My head is spinning with all of this maths so I am not going to do any more to figure out the temperature rise. I know from experience that 1.3 W is not going to give much of a rise in the cable temperature.

So I guess the labels were slapped on the cables by the production staff when they were made in the factory because they are put on the longer ones.  They did not consult the engineers about whether they were needed.

Or are we in a really risk averse world?



It would be irresponsible not to!

I was reading the sales blurb for the ASUS Vivobook X556UQ and one of the things that is announced as a really cool thing is the short circuit protection for the battery. 

I had to laugh!

It would be really stupid and irresponsible to NOT have short circuit protection for the battery.  Lithium ion batteries can put out enough current to cause fires.  Take the recent recall of the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 for instance.  They had some sort of battery fault that caused some of them to catch fire and Samsung ended up recalling millions of phones although in this case a short circuit protection may not have helped because it may have been a fault internal to the battery.

So ASUS, you may fool the general public into thinking that short circuit protection is a good thing but you ain’t going to fool the techies!