12 March 2013
PlayStation 3 Teardown (Raw Materials)
Heavy footsteps can be heard echoing through the concrete building. Remnants of bullet shells are scattered on the floor. “One more kill!” Jeff tells himself. Two hours pass. It is 3’oclock in the morning. Still not satisfied with this kill count, Jeff presses pause, abandons his PlayStation 3 for the night, and heads to bed. Jeff, like countless others paranoid about losing their level in a video game, leaves his gaming console on for several hours. Even while the console in in Sleep Mode, a lot of energy is consumed and wasted. The PlayStation 3 (PS3) Slim is built up of many different components in order for it to function properly and efficiently as a system. Also, because the PS3 Slim is made up of many different parts, some of them may malfunction, causing the entire gaming console to become nonfunctional. What exactly happens to broken gaming consoles? Presented below is the information I discovered relating to raw materials, their acquisition, reuse and recycling of the PS3 Slim, and the waste management of one of the PS3 Slim’s inner components: the logic board.
Inner & Outer Components of the PlayStation 3 Slim
Recycled Resin, Coated Wire, Ink, Wire, Logic Board /Circuit Board, Microchips, 12V, 1.3A Fan, Heat Sink, w/ Plastic Shroud for Fan, Thermal grease, Electromagnetic Interference (EMI) Shield, 7 Silicone Pads, Screws, Electrical Tape, 5 Pieces of Tape, Processor Clamps, 2 Matte Finished Brackets, Blue Ray Disk Drive, Control Board, Cables, Wire, Coated Wires, Power Supply, Bluetooth: Controller Chip, 120GB Toshiba Drive, and a Wi-Fi Antenna.
Recycled Resin, coated wire, paint, ink, fiberglass, copper, copper foil, tin-lead, nickel, gold, silicon, silver, steel, aluminum, thermosetting plastics, sheet metal, polymethyl acrylate (adhesive), and polyurethane.
Raw Materials Acquisition
Sony purchases its parts from many, many different suppliers around the world. Many of Sony’s suppliers are part of the Green Partner Program, which states that Sony is allowed to purchase the two items, listed before, only from suppliers who have taken part in the Green Party Agreement. They also emphasizes that environmental conservation is one of their major concerns in looking for new suppliers. Sony collaborates with its suppliers in managing parts and materials to try to reduce their impact on the environment (Trade-in…).
In my attempt to find out how the raw materials were gathered, and where, I hit dead ends. Because of the thousands of suppliers, it was difficult to pinpoint specifics of where an how these materials were acquired.
According to the most recent “Operation Explanation of Designated Raw Material”, Sony must purchase its designated raw materials from Green Partner certified suppliers. A raw material that is designated under this list is recycled resin. Resin that is recycled by the scraps of materials and products, which have been used for a final consumer product or are nonconformities or defective materials and products that are discarded from the manufacturing process.
Paint & Ink
For ink and paint, I could not seem to find what types of each material was used in the manufacturing of the PS3 Slim. I do know, however, that inks and paints may have been used to print type on the warning labels that are on the PS3 slim gaming console.
Circuit Boards, Microchips/Silicon chips
The PlayStation 3 Slim has one main logic board or circuit board. In many smaller components, there are smaller circuit boards for each device.
The main substrate used in printed circuit boards is a glass fiber reinforced--fiberglass--epoxy resin. It has a copper foil bonded on to one or both sides. PCBs made from paper-reinforced phenolic resin with a bonded copper foil are less expensive and are often used in household electrical devices ("Printed Circuit Board").
The printed circuits are made of copper. To get the pattern desired, the copper is plated or etched away on the surface of the substrate. Preventing oxidation is done by coating the copper circuits with a layer of tin-lead. “Contact fingers are plated with tin-lead, then nickel, and finally gold for excellent conductivity” ("Printed Circuit Board").
Here is a list of some microchips that Ifixit had identified which are on the PS3 Slim logic board: 4 NEC/TOKIN 0e108 capacitors, RSX Chip (Cell Processor), 4 Dual Elpida 512Mbit RAM chips, Marvell Ethernet controller, Panasonic HDMI controller, Sony AV multi-out controller, Clock generator (1): ICS 9249AGLF, Clock generator (2): ICS 1493DG, Samsung K8Q2815UQB-PI4B, SW2-301 0920KMOOT, Sony CXD9963G8, and a Bluetooth: 2.0 EDR Controller Chip (PlayStation 3…).
Semiconductor ICs are fabricated in a layer process includes these key process steps: Imaging, Deposition, Etching ("Silicon Chip").
“Printed circuit boards are etched with copper to route electricity from power sources to the various computer components, integrated circuits and microchips are manufactured out of copper” (Ott, Eirik).
Microchips, or silicon ships, are built layer by layer on a wafer of the semiconductor material silicon. Through a process called photolithography, each layer of the chip is built by a process, which involves chemicals, gases, and light (Bellis, Mary). At some point, in a process called doping, the silicon wafer gets blasted with atoms, either Boron or Arsenic, to adjust the conductivity of the chip. By overlaying the chip with a thin layer of aluminum conducting pathways between the parts are created (Bellis, Mary).
Additionally, the PS3 Slim uses a rubber made out of silicone for the pads, which are placed on the bottom of the console to keep it in place when on a solid surface. Silicone is an elastomer, which is a rubber-like material composed of silicone. Silicone is a polymer and it contains silicon together with carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen. Once mixed and colored, silicone rubber can be extruded into tubes, strips, solid cord or custom profiles according the size restrictions of the manufacturer. Silicone rubber can be molded into custom shapes and designs. Manufacturers work to set industry tolerances when extruding, cutting or joining silicone rubber profiles ("Silicone Rubber").
Steel, Silver, Aluminum
There are several components of the PS3 Slim that consists of either steel, silver, and/or aluminum. The torx and Phillips screws in the console I assuming to be made out of steel because whilst looking for information about how screws are made, steel is generally made from low to medium carbon steel wire, but other tough and inexpensive metals may be substituted, such as stainless steel, brass, nickel alloys, or aluminum ("Screw."). Also, screws have the option of being coated with a finish, but it must be compatible with the screw’s makeup. For example, steel screw “may be coated or plated with zinc, cadium, nickel, or chromium for extra protection” ("Screw." Madehow...)
More parts I have assumed to be made out of steel are the processor clamps, which are used to apply even pressure between the PS3 Slim's heat sink and processors. Also the Matte Finished Brackets. The brackets were painted with Matte paint, but I had no idea what “matte” is made out of, or how to begin the search of defining what matte paint is made out of.
Electromagnetic Interference (EMI) Shield, which is designed to apply pressure to the center of the processors to keep them firmly planted on their heat sinks, I assumed to be made out of sheet metal, stainless steel, or aluminum. Because the EMI is enclosed within a chassis, another commonly used shielding method my have been used. Coating the inside of the enclosure with a metallic ink or similar material is common, especially with electronic goods housed in plastic enclosures. The ink consists of a carrier material loaded with a suitable metal, typically copper or nickel, in the form of very small particulates. It is sprayed on to the enclosure and, once dry, produces a continuous conductive layer of metal, which can be electrically connected to the chassis ground of the equipment, thus providing effective shielding ("Electromagnetic Shielding").
Inside the PS3 Slim is something called thermal grease. Thermal grease is a gluey fluid substance, originally with properties similar to grease, which increases the thermal conductivity of a thermal interface. Thermal grease fills up the microscopic air-gaps existing due to the imperfectly flat and smooth surfaces of the components. In electronics, it is often used to aid a component's thermal dissipation through a heat sink ("Thermal Compound").
The type of thermal grease used in the PS3 Slim is called Arctic Silver Thermal Paste. Metal-based thermal grease contain solid metal particles which are usually silver or aluminum. It has a better thermal conductivity and is more expensive than ceramic-based grease ("Thermal Compound").
I saw that there was electrical tape used to keep some of the wire together. To insulate electrical wires and other material that conduct electricity, electrical tape is used. It can be made of many plastics, but vinyl is most popular, because it stretches well and gives an effective and long lasting insulation. ("Electrical Tape.")
There were also 5 pieces of tape found on the inside of the PS3, which were used to hold down the wires. Searching for different types of tape, I found that the most likely type of tape they would be is the “peelable” kind. With peelable adhesives, the adhesion is fairly strong and would not fall off in normal circumstances. However, the label can be “removed relatively easily without tearing the base stock or leaving adhesive behind on the old surface” ("Label"). This type is frequently known as 'removable' ("Label").
Another assumption I have made dealing with adhesives is that the adhesive could have been made with acrylics or polyacrylates ("Acrylate Polymer"). Label adhesives that are pressure sensitive are commonly made from water-based acrylic adhesives. However, they are made with “a smaller volume made using solvent based adhesives and hot melt adhesives” ("Label").
Also, because the tape has to last through heat, because it is inside the PS3, I assumed that the adhesive also had to be heat-resistant. Following that assumption, I found that acrylic resins are a group of related thermoplastic or thermosetting plastic substances derived from acrylic acid, methacrylic acid or other related compounds, meaning that it can resist high temperatures ("Acrylic Resin").
Cables, Wire, Coated Wires
Here are a few of the cables that are found in the PS3 Slim: Blu Ray Drive Data Cable, Plastic Insulation, Control Board Cable, Blu Ray Drive Power Cable, DC-In Cable, and AC Inlet.
Another raw material listed under the “Operation Explanation of Designated Raw Material”, includes coated wire. Coated wire is “the wire is composed of conduct wire or optical fiber and coated with resin outside, or its bundled coated wire” (Supplier Relations...).
There are also different types of cables in the PS3 Slim. One is the ribbon cable, which is
“a cable with many conducting wires running parallel to each other on the same flat plane. As a result the cable is wide and flat” ("Ribbon Cable"). Its name comes from its resemblance to a piece of ribbon. The wire used in making ribbon cables is usually stranded copper wire ("Ribbon Cable") Magnet wire or enameled wire might also have been used in the manufacturing of the wires for the PS3 Slim. Magnet wire or enameled wire is a copper or aluminum wire coated with a very thin layer of insulation ("Enameled Wire").
I have made an assumption that most of the plastics used in manufacturing the PS3 Slim are plastics resistant to heat. I make this assumption because electronic devices create heat while in use because of all of the electricity used to run the console, so the plastic used to make the PS3 Slim chassis, the 12V 1.3A Fan, and the heat sink, with a plastic shroud for the fan have to be able to get hot without melting. These types of plastics are called thermosetting plastics.
There are many different types of thermosetting plastics. Making more assumptions, I have narrowed them down to polyurethane and acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS).
Polyurethane is “a polymer composed of a chain of organic units joined by carbamate (urethane) links” ("Polyurethane"). While most polyurethanes are thermosetting polymers that do not melt when heated ("Polyurethane").
I also read that the fan in the PS3 Slim is presumably made up of ABS Plastic. ABS’s glass transition temperature is approximately 105 °C (221 °F). It is also has no true melting point because it is amorphous. ("Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene")
Recycling & Reuse
With gaming consoles and other electronic devices, because of the many components are made chemically, they have to go through a specific process to be recycled. With video game consoles, the system is sent to a facility in which the product is taken apart. The parts that can still be reused or recycled and the parts that are hazardous can be appropriately divided and handled. There are three options when recycling a gaming console: drop-off, mail-in, or take-back programs ("Video Games…”).
Generally, with the PlayStation 3 Slim, or any Sony product, have the option of either using Sony’s Trade-in and Recycling Program or find another recycling center to send a defective or malfunctioned electronic system. Sony uses third party electronics recyclers in agreement with rigorous environmental and worker safety standards.
For trade-in, consumers have the option of sending a qualified product, Sony-made or non-Sony-made, for credit, if it is eligible for a reward value. The equipment sent into the Trade-in Program will either be reconditioned or recycled. Some equipment may be sold in its whole machine form into the secondary or used marketplace. Other equipment may be dismantled and be sold off as usable parts. Anything else that cannot be reused or refurbished will be selected to be recycled and will be broken down into its raw material format and be used to produce new materials. A lot of the products that are sent to the Trade-in Program are sold to legitimate business overseas. Overseas markets are the best source of reuse for previously owned consumer products (“Trade-In…”).
The Sony Recycle Program is basically the same as the Trade-in program, but this service is free of charge and does not give credit. Sony’s ultimate goal “is to take back one pound of eWaste for every pound of product that they make” ("Trade-In…”). Sony also provides tip on their page on what to do with old products that are still usable: donate the product to a non-profit charity or sell it.
Besides going straight though the Sony company to recycle a PlayStation 3 Slim, I found that consumers have the option of using other recycling centers. All the consumers have to do is look them up online. For instance I found a website called NextWorth. NextWorth is committed to reducing eWaste and its hazards, by bringing the re-use of electronics products to everyone, keeping them out of landfills and putting them into the hands of new users. Reducing e-waste is not just about recycling, but also about re-use. NextWorth's programs and services bring the re-use of electronics products into the mainstream, to reduce e-waste and increase the lifetime use of electronics products ("Reducing EWaste").
Waste Management of the PlayStation 3 Slim Logic Board
Because I could not find out specifically the waste management of a PS3 Slim logic/circuit board, I, instead, found the waste management of circuit boards in general.
In manufacturing circuit boards, the solder used to make electrical connections on a printed circuit board (PCB ) contains lead, which is considered a toxic material. Another health hazard are the fumes made from the solder. Additionally, the soldering procedures must be carried out in a closed environment. Before being released into the atmosphere, the fumes must appropriately be extracted and cleaned. ("Printed Circuit Board")
Furthermore, many electronic products that contain PCBs become outdated within 12-18 months. Many environmentalists are concerned about the potential for those obsolete products to enter the waste-stream and end up in landfills. In order to resolve those worries, recycling efforts for electronic products include “refurbishing older products and reselling them to customers that don't need, or have access to, newer, state-of-the-art electronics” ("Printed Circuit Board"). Other electronics are dismantled and the computer parts are recovered for resale and reuse in other products.
In many countries in Europe, legislation “requires manufacturers to buy back their used products and render them safe for the environment before disposal” ("Printed Circuit Board"). This means that manufacturers of electronics must remove and salvage the toxic solder from their PCBs. However, this is an expensive process, so it began research into the development of non-toxic means of making electrical connections. One promising approach involves the use of water-soluble, electrically conductive molded plastics to replace the wires and solder. ("Printed Circuit Board")
In conclusion, my group and I found that the life cycle of the PlayStation 3 Slim is very complicated. We could barely find out the true sources of where the raw materials were acquired. Also, many of the components of this gaming console can be toxic to the environment, so the three recycling methods that I had mentioned wee the best options for recycling gaming consoles. Also, through this investigation, we found that the Sony company is doing all it can to keep its eWaste as low as possible. I was quite impressed at the lengths they have to so far. For instance, making sure their suppliers become part of the Green Partner Program.
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Professor Christina Cogdell
13 March 2013
Embodied Energy of the Sony Playstation 3 Slim
Sony is the name of a company that has a large reputation for popular products used in our everyday lives. Among other popular consumer picks like cameras, televisions, and computers made by Sony; their most popular video gaming console in this past decade known as the Playstation 3 (PS3), takes a big portion of the credit for the company’s success. Originally, the system debuted in Japan in November of 2006. Soon after the hype, the console was quickly mass-produced in other countries where other company branches were located, but at a very high price of as high as $599.99 to consumers ("PLAYSTATION 3 (PS3) Revealed Before E3"). Over the years it dropped in price and eventually the PS3 “Slim” version was created. With this new product came new challenges and vast improvements in the overall process under which the console is made. The embodied energy associated with the Sony Playstation 3 Slim takes into account the acquisition of its raw materials, the manufacturing practices for its development process, and the plans for distributing the product through transportation.
Raw Materials Acquisition:
In order to fully grasp the starting point of any electrical device it becomes necessary to have awareness of the basic minerals involved. Fortunately for Sony, they have worked towards a goal of reusing as many materials as possible which have been collected, instead of digging up “virgin” or primary substances directly from the Earth. What this does in the long run, is cut down on emissions of CO2 which normally come from mining methods or primary mineral processing in the factories ("Sony Corporation Global Headquarters").
Upstream management is a recent process that the Sony Corporation values with great importance to make sure raw materials are clean to use from the start (Sony Green Partner Activities, 2005). In a sense, the raw materials Sony makes use of are almost always reused products that have eventually been broken down or still plan to be. The Green Partner Program is the group in charge of determining who has access for supplying Sony with the reusable materials for sections such as the substances in plastic. In most of Sony’s devices such as the Playstation 3, they refer to the reused portions as waste Polycarbonate (PC) Resin for the operations of manufacturing. In this process, leftover optical film is simply crushed into a finer material that will be added with other sources. This crushing process takes the form of kinetic energy and is continually used in similar breakdown processes which are yet to be mentioned. The next most commonly included substance, besides lesser additives solely for color manipulation, are defective optical discs. These discs are also crushed in the same fashion as the optical film but must also go through a chemical cleansing treatment. Under this procedure there are specialists assigned by Sony who assist in the removal of the coatings that were already present on the discs. Once completed, the remaining materials are mixed together forming what was mentioned before as the polycarbonate resin for reused plastic. In order to speed up the process a little more, there is a sulfur-based flame-retardant used as a catalyst to be blended during the decomposition stage ("Sony Corporation Global Headquarters").
Sony, a pro-eco friendly company, did not have much info if any about the primary substances or where they were extracted from before switching to 99% of a reusable process in 2011 for PS3 Slims ("Sony Corporation Global Headquarters"). The assumption being that not a single console harbors virgin mineral elements in the plastics since the creation of the “Slim” version. Although, some of the PS3 simplified components listed as raw materials include copper, copper foil, tin-lead, nickel, gold, silicon, silver, steel, aluminum, sheet metal, and fiberglass to be on the electrical hardware. These along with recycled resin, coated wire, paint, ink, thermoplastics, thermosetting plastics, polyurethane, and polymethyl acrylate (adhesive) made up the outer portions or anything composed of plastic in general.
Manufacturing, Processing and Formulation:
Feedstock preparation in general is a term given to the breakdown of both recycled materials and primary materials to form new substances. All that can be mentioned about this is that the PS3 Slim was an electrical device that had parts made this way for the inside of the console like other products. Therefore, from the energy standpoint of mixing and granulation that are required, there is a kinetic force applied to make the process work ("Manufacturing Cost Estimation").
Injection molding takes place in four basic steps which are termed as clamping, injection, cooling, and lastly ejection. The necessary supplies include the defective raw plastic material, a molding, and the injection device itself. The plastic is melted within the molding injection device and then added to the mold. Next, it solidifies and cools together for the final desired shape of the part ("Manufacturing Cost Estimation"). This is one of many methods that are assumed to be used in the creation of the PS3 components. Nowhere could the step-by-step factory instructions by found after I searched, but with little doubt this fulfills the standard recipe for the majority of other common devices. Using this method, a company is capable of producing electronic housings that are tough, have high impact strength, are naturally translucent, and also inexpensive. In addition, there are electrical components made with rubber or Thermoplastic Elastomer to be flexible, tough, and more expensive. Among all these possibilities, most important is the Polytherimide used in connectors, switches, shields, and boards ("Manufacturing Cost Estimation"). This material resembles closely with the “SoRPlas” (Sony Recycled Plastic) which is a flame retardant recycled plastic made from leftover manufactured materials ("Sony Corporation Global Headquarters").
Metal injection molding is a method which makes use of primary materials such as copper alloys, low alloy steels, stainless steels, and high-speed steel components. In order for this embodied energy process to work, feedstock, or a combination of metal and polymer as the raw materials are needed. Heating is then applied to the process while within the metal injection molding machine. This heated thermal energy input takes away any unwanted polymers, before finally resulting in a metal part of the desired shape and high-density ("Manufacturing Cost Estimation"). This becomes extremely useful for circuit layouts and smaller chips that are embedded within the device. Just like the ordinary injection molding, this is a standard process that must be assumed in the general case since the Sony Corporation lacks in making the step-by-step formation of components public. Metal injection molding turns out to be such an intricate procedure that there are even more specific steps it can be broken down to. The first major step being the feedstock preparation begins with a very fine powdered mixture of metal and polymer less than 20 microns in size. A hot thermoplastic binder mixes with the powder metal and cooled to the point where granulation can take effect and make pellets which are the actual feedstock. The final ratio after all has been completed is roughly 40% polymer and 60% metal for the volume of each individual pellet. The second major step involves “debinding,” where the polymer binding substance is removed from the metal, and in some cases a chemical treatment bath is used beforehand to wear down the binder. Having further removal makes use of a low temperature oven to evaporate the polymer binder as well. This leaves an empty volume space of 40% in the metal parts which are akin to pockets of air and nothing more. Finally, the last major step known as “sinterting,” is where the final product will end up preserving the original shape it was molded to originally, and has both a greater density and tolerance. The process of sinterting initiates with the metal being heated in a furnace up to 2500°F, reducing the debinded empty space down to 1-5% in volume. The result now consists of a metal part that is 95-99% clean and pure in density. Once again the metal substance goes through a high temperature heating stage at nearly its melting point. Finally, the pores disappear and the part shrinks down to about 75-85% the size molded primarily, resulting in the final product ("Manufacturing Cost Estimation").
Electromagnetic shielding was another assumed feature associated with the composition of the PS3, to protect the parts on the inside from experiencing small levels of radiation that may have end up being problematic in the long run. The make-up of the shielding has a wire mesh which is used to surround the conductor core in a cable made of usually a rubber material. This shielding stops the signals from dispersing and entering into the cord for less interference to the ‘outside world’ ("Emsshield”).
Silicone Rubber is one of the last major sources where embodied energy is found in the manufacturing stages of this video gaming console. Thermal energy in the form of heat is applied to silicone to change its form into a rubber-like substance used to seal corners or create pegs underneath the console so it will not slide around. “Silicone rubber is used to insulate, seal and protect circuits, engine gaskets, control unit gaskets, electronic encapsulation and special elements for decoupling noise” ("Silicones: Rubber Bringing Color and Performance to Life"). Therefore, while heat is active on the silicone the resulting rubber can be molded to a desired shape.
Distribution and Transportation:
This area of the energy embodiment process for the Sony Playstation 3 Slim was rather vague and hard to find information for. The issue which came up frequently was not being able to specifically focus on just the PS3 console alone while it was transporting from one location to the next. With the exception of one site posted by the Sony Corporation, the search for the energy associated with distribution was not found. Sony stated, that they as a company were recently promoting the fuel-efficient and low-emission vehicles to decrease impacts directly related to the fossil fuels and the environment. Thailand is an example where roughly one-third of the operated vehicles now run on compressed natural gas (CNG) instead of commonly used fossil fuels. As a result there is a reduction to greenhouse gases and air pollutants like NOx gases. “With the exception of sturdier pistons and valves, CNG engines work much like conventional internal combustion versions, though the cleaner-burning fuel requires much less emissions equipment than diesel” ("Sony Corporation Global Headquarters"). In other words, less energy is effecting the outside environment while also expending less work due to its efficiency improvements. Past this, the major spots located around the world in different branches of the Sony Corporation consist of Japan, the United States, and the UK. “Under the Sony Group name, Sony Corporation has more than 30 subsidiary companies in Japan itself and more than 50 affiliated companies outside of Japan. All those affiliated companies range from electronic company up to even chemical companies” ("SONY CORPORATION"). In each region there is no narrowing down of information regarding just the Playstation 3 Slim console as stated before, but nonetheless these are the hot-spots for gaming in the global sense so most of the distribution originates from these areas.
Unfortunately when researching most big name companies to try and understand their trademark secrets or basic how-to steps there are many dead ends and failures which can arise. In the case of the Sony Corporation, a lot of the embodied energies can be deduced through similar device constructions such as a laptop or home computer. In reality methods like injection molding and electromagnetic shielding found in the PS3 units are also similarly related to how manufacturers insert semi-conductors and cell processors in with the silicon chips. A unique feature Sony has worked hard to build up is the “SoRPlas” where essentially the largest majority of materials and building parts are gathered for reuse and recycling techniques. Primary materials such as elements and minerals from the earth naturally are not always needed to be mined out and tend to be more costly. The main take away from this generation of gaming consoles such as the PS3 Slim, is they are moving away from harmful methods of energy usage and transferring to purely recycle and reusable sources.
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March 10th, 2013
Playstation 3 - Wastes and Emissions
From Pacman to Super Mario Bros., the video game industry has continued to evolve and establish itself in many households. For many generations, there has been at least one type of gaming console perched next to the family television across the United States. In 1994, Sony released their first game console, the illustrious Playstation. Then in 2000, the Playstation’s legacy continued on with the launch of the Playstation 2. Although the Playstation 3’s release in 2006 lacked creativity in the naming department, it boasted greater graphic and playing power for the players than its predecessors. While the Playstation 3 is no doubt one of the most popular consoles in the market, like other electronic devices, there are wastes that affect the environment starting from its conception in the manufacturing plant to the consumers’ use at home, and finally at the end of its life cycle.
Sony Corporations is one of the largest electronic companies in the world. Its products range from flat screen televisions to of course, the ever-popular game console, the Playstation. In 1988, Sony began to integrate itself in the gaming industry by developing a CD-ROM drive for Nintendo. By 1994, Sony Computer Entertainment released its own, first-ever Playstation (IGN). Following the success of the Playstation, the Playstation 2 was launched on October 26, 2000. The game consoles were successful in households across the globe. The Playstation captured images and delivered a gaming experience on a different scale than previously seen by other consoles. Not only was the Playstation a success in households, it was also a success to the division of Sony created solely for entertainment purposes, Sony Computer Entertainment. The Playstation 2 is the “best selling Games console to date selling over 136 Million units, as of December 2008” (Computing History). With the success of the PS2, the Playstation 3 was released in Jan in November 2006. The Playstation 3 is not only a gaming device, but also a multi-purpose system that has changed the gaming industry ever since its release.
The Playstation 3 has many versions that have been developed upon to make the system more advanced. The focus of the topic is specifically on the specs of the PS3 Slim that was released in 2009. The slim version is made up of many different materials but the main parts are the power supply, main board, hard drive, EMI shield, heat sink, fan, Blu-ray drive, controller, and plastic case (Ifixit). The actual raw materials used include thermoplastics, fiberglass, copper foil, and sheet metal just to name a few. These raw materials contribute to larger pieces of the PS3. Uses of thermoplastics include the fan and the Bluray drive; fiberglass and copper foil are used to make the logic board. Sheet metal is used to assemble the electromagnetic interference shield. All the materials are acquired from different sources and are assembled to a working console at the Sony manufacturing sites. The process to make these raw materials into actual working products requires energy and precise preparations.
Dangerous Chemicals In The Device
Not all materials used in the production of the PS3 are safe or environmentally friendly. There are some highly toxic chemicals that in the PS3 and when thrown away, they emit fumes and are solid wastes that can seep into the water supply. One of these materials is polyvinyl chloride (PVC), which is one of the most used plastics; however, when PVC breaks down, it “emit poisonous dioxins and phthalates” that are linked to cancer and the reproductive health (Long). Bromine is used as a fire retardant in the fan of the PS3 (Greenpeace). Brominated flame-retardant does not break down well and can remain in the environment as solids for long periods of time (Gruener). Beryllium used for circuit board contacts is the most hazardous to workers in the recycling business when it is broken down. In addition, the PS3 uses a rechargeable battery. Most batteries are made of toxic materials like cobalt and do not break down. It taints the air when disposed of and can affect human health. Disposing these types of materials cause toxins to be released, either by incineration, which lead to air toxins or in landfills where the water supply could be contaminated.
Wastes & Emissions While In Production
The production of the Playstation 3 has various wastes and emissions that are harmful to the environment. The PS3s are mass-produced in manufacturing plants; the two plants that Sony utilizes for its products are Foxconn and Asustek in Taiwan. Like all manufacturing plants, these sites have wastes that result from creating the consoles; the wastes range from solid wastes to chemicals that are emitted into the air. Foxconn has released CSR reports for every year of production and from it I was able to discover the emissions that Foxconn created in 2011. Greenhouse emission from the factory was 1,172,000 tons in that year (2011 CSER Report). Unfortunately, there was no specific data for the devices that Foxconn produces; therefore, I was only able to speculate that the production of the PS3 contributed to the total greenhouse gas released.
Various parts of the PS3 are produced elsewhere and brought to the manufacturing plants for assembly. Because there is no exact information about the manufacturer for the numerous parts, I was just able to search about the general wastes and emissions while producing these parts. The overall design of the PS3 has a plastic shell around the body. Plastic is made out of crude oil, natural gases and other chemicals that are non-renewable. The two main products that result in the most wastes while in production are plastic and semiconductors. At plastic manufacturing plants there are solid wastes and emissions that are exposed to the environment. Chemicals that are emitted in the air include styrene, nitrogen oxide and sulfur dioxide (Knoblauch). Volatile organic compounds are also airborne from painting operations of the products. The logic board is made up of semiconductors and cell processors. Semiconductor plants are dumping toxic wastes such as trichlorothylene into the water source. Chemicals that are ejected into the air from these plants are mythelene chloride, freon, etc., which cause health effects to the workers in these plants (Grossman). In addition, toxic fumes are released from the solder “ used to make electrical connections” on the circuit board (Printed Board). Materials in the circuit board are also non-renewable and remain in the environment for long periods of time.
Use And Transportation
Although today’s transportation is easy with the invention of automobiles, but cars and buses emit greenhouse gas into the air causing an environmental change. With the Playstation 3, transportation also plays a role in emitting airborne wastes. The PS3 is an indirect cause to greenhouse emissions. Raw materials are transported to the manufacturing sites, and then the finished consoles are transported to the consumers themselves. Transportation accounts for twenty-eight percent of greenhouse gas emissions so transporting the consoles from place to place adds to the overall percentage (About Transportation & Climate Change). On the energy aspect of the PS3 slim, it actually uses half of the power of the original PS3 model. While the console is in game mode, it uses 96.24 watts (Moskovciak & Katzmaier). Electricity generation is thirty-three percent of total greenhouse emissions. Almost all energy production comes from nonrenewable energy resources such as fossil fuel and coal that emits CO2 into the air; therefore, if the PS3 consumes less energy, there will be less energy production leady to less greenhouse emissions from energy production plants.
High tech electronics can be defined as any product created from various materials and “any materials semiconductors and circuit boards” (Grossman). Going off that definition, the Playstation 3 undeniably falls into the high tech category. And what happens when consumers abandon their products for the newer, flashier one? The old, discarded devices are tossed and become what is known as electronic waste or e-waste. The millions of Playstations and million more of devices such as laptops are thrown in to dumpsites. According to statistics, “20 to 50 million tons of e-waste are generated worldwide each year” (Ford). E-waste dumpsites are generally in third world countries where workers—women, children, and the elderly alike—are exposed to dangerous chemicals as they try to dig for gold hidden in the devices (Young). E-waste is very dangerous because it only not pollutes the water supply but there are high concentrations of chemicals in agricultural fields near the dumpsite areas, which can lead to contaminated food supply (Grossman). The Playstation 3 and other devices such as laptops are disposed without thoughts about the consequences it could cause to the environment or to the general population.
Sony is aware of the effects that the production of its products on the environment and has programs which is aimed to be environmentally friendly. In 2007, Sony paired up with WM Recycle America to reduce the amount of e-waste in the country. This program allows any Sony manufactured product to be recycled free of charge. Because of the time and money it takes to recycle, the program helps consumers recycle their old products easily (Rothman). Sony is also taking initiative to develop “a flame-retardant recycled plastic material” that will help to reduce the CO2 emissions from brominated flame-retardant. The material is known as “Sony Recycled Plastic” or SoRPlas. The name stems from the fact that this new flame-retardant is made out of high concentrations of recycled materials. With the production of this new material, Sony hopes to reduce “CO2 emissions during the plastic manufacturing process” (Sony). Sony’s actions will hopefully reduce any kind of wastes that are produced in the manufacturing process.
Throughout the research process, I was unable to find the specific information that was needed for my part of the life cycle. I tried to find the specific manufacturing plants where all the materials are made to search about their wastes materials. With that said, there was a lot of dead ends. I had to make assumptions and guess on the how the PS3 contributed to the wastes, such as the release of greenhouse gas at Foxconn. I also assumed that the PS3 is an indirect cause to CO2 emissions because of energy production and transportation. Nonetheless, the successful part of my research was about the making of the materials that makes up the PS3. There were sources that detailed the fumes and wastes released while theses materials, such as the semiconductors, are in production plants.
Airborne and solid wastes are the side effects of making a console such as the Playstation 3. Because it is such a powerful machine, hundreds of materials are used to produce it, but not all of these materials are safe for the environment. Emissions and wastes are created while the console is in the manufacturing plants, during transportation, and at the end of its life cycle. If the Playstation and other consoles are manufactured with different, less toxic materials, then not only the environment will benefit but also the industry and the players will as well.
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