The OLPC Wiki is Locked - Make a Donation to OLPC

Ask OLPC a Question about Product Life-cycle

Jump to: navigation, search
  english | Copy "{{subst:requesttranslation}}" to españolCopy "{{subst:requesttranslation}}" to 한국어 HowTo [ID# 252197]  +/-  

Product Life-cycle

This page deals with issues related to Product Life-cycle.

Return to Ask OLPC a Question.


The OLPC is the greenest laptop ever mass-produced.

-No hard disk or other moving parts and increased toughness mean longer expected life

-Batteries, backlight, etc. all designed to avoid toxic materials.

-Ground-up design for efficient power consumption - several times less than many current laptops.


Another complaint from critics is the question who will maintain the laptops.

Maintenance will be done locally. The laptops have been designed so that it is easy to replace some of the major components without specialised tools. The expectation is that each school will have a person who is capable of swapping out bad parts and that they will be supported within the same organizational structures as the other school facilities.

Also see the wiki pages on Support.

Quality Assurance

Testing and risk management seems like a good idea, even though this project does not contain life-critical components. How will it be acomplished? Is there room for certified testers in the project?

Testing is mentioned in several other places on the wiki including the news section. There are extensive test efforts underway. Try to use the Search button at the left before asking your question.

Here is a place to start exploring on-going test efforts: test_issues

How are these machines going to be dealt with at the end of their useful life?

In addition to dangerous heavy metals, shouldn't the amount of benign metals, plastics, etc require the need for responsible collection & recycling the machines?

What about the shear amount of waste these labtops are going to produce? Are we going to have landfills in third-world countries brimming with computers that outdated after 2 years? Does anyone know if any sustainable questions like these have been asked and if so where can I find out more information. Lucy

We are doing a cradle-to-grave analysis of the laptop. We'll report more on the wiki when we have real data. --Walter 11:18, 25 August 2006 (EDT)

It would be great if you could look beyond cradle-to-grave strategies and consider cradle-to-cradle senerios where key parts and materials are reused/recycled for use in production of new laptops. Have you considered signing on to the EPEAT program which defines a set of environmental criteria for computer products? A few of the guidelines include:

- Reduction/Elimination of toxic substances (Cadmium, Mercury, Lead, Hexavalent Chromium, Flame retardants and plasticizers, Polyvinyl Chloride, etc)

The industry is way ahead of you.--Mokurai 19:38, 9 November 2006 (EST)
  • Nickel-cadmium batteries will not be used. NiMH or Lithium ion batteries are state of the art.
  • Where would mercury appear? The XO doesn't have fluorescent backlighting. It uses LEDs.
  • Tin-lead solder works better than the current alternatives, but is not required.
  • There is no excuse for hexavalent chromium to appear in a laptop. (Erin Brockovich found it in drinking water near a chemical plant.)
  • I have never heard of flame retardants on a computer. That's been an issue with clothing, not electronics.
  • Plasticizers are used to soften plastics. There is no reason for them to be used in a rigid plastic case, keycaps, or any other part of the Laptop other than a tiny amount of wire insulation inside the case. You might get some Diisodecyl phthalate (DIDP) in the insulation.
  • PVC is solid, does not dissolve in water, and is extremely non-reactive. However, it will not be used in the Laptop. It is much better suited to use as water and waste piping.
Plastic parts for computers are likely to be made from Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene, or ABS, which is the material for Lego bricks. The standard for such toys is no toxicity when children put them in their mouths. --Mokurai 19:38, 9 November 2006 (EST)

- Materials selection (recycled or bioplastics content & dematerialization) - Designed for recycling - Product longevity / life cycle extension

The limiting factor on computer life is not materials, but electronics obsolescence. It is conceivable that the Laptops could be made so that the screen and motherboard could be replaced to create the next model. Since almost all the cost is in the screen and motherboard, it is not clear what the advantage would be, compared with the psychological advantage of all-new computers for the children every few years.--Mokurai 19:38, 9 November 2006 (EST)

- Energy conservation (crank is a nice touch here) - End of life management (take back, battery recycling) - Packaging design

For more information on EPEAT see:

I have suggested that schoolchildren might get OLPC laptops or other computers in first, fifth, and ninth grades. A four-year lifetime is a bit long, but not horrible. When more money is available to schools, it could be reduced to three years, in grades 1 4 7 10. The first day of school each year would include exchanging computers for grades 5 9 or 4 7 10, and copying all of the work from previous years to the new, more capacious storage media. At this point, it becomes economical to take all of the old computers from each school to a regional or national recycling center for processing. Handling millions of the same system would allow much greater efficiency in recycling than you get with the usual hodge-podge of all ages and kinds of equipment. --Mokurai 19:38, 9 November 2006 (EST)

Battery Recyling

State of the art NiMH batteries still shouldn't be thrown into landfills or burned...When the batteries wear out will there be an exchange program? Or will they just be junking up the villages? 20:40, 16 February 2007 (EST)

Life cycle costs

See Lifecycle Costs.