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Who Pays for E-Waste?

Washington state sticks manufacturers with recycling tab

4 min read

A bill that took effect on 1 July makes manufacturers—not consumers, not the government—responsible for the costs of recycling old electronics ­equipment in the state of Washington. This makes Washington the fourth U.S. state to enact some form of eâ''waste ­legislation, and the fourth to go its own way in choosing who pays for what. But Washington’s is by far the most ­comprehensive law, covering the ­collection, transportation, and recycling of computers, monitors, and TVs from consumers, small businesses, schools, small government entities, and charities [see photo, " "].

The various state and international schemes mandated to recover and recycle electronic waste run the full gamut of potential models. At one extreme, the European Union enacted legislation in 2002 that passes along the entire cost to the manufacturers (an approach known as the producer responsibility model); at the other extreme, California hands the entire cost to consumers (the advance recovery fee, or ARF, model). The U.S. state of New Hampshire bans certain products from landfills but does not prescribe what to do with them, while in Japan, manufacturers are responsible for taking back obsolete electronics but can charge consumers recycling fees.

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Deep Learning Could Bring the Concert Experience Home

The century-old quest for truly realistic sound production is finally paying off

12 min read
Image containing multiple aspects such as instruments and left and right open hands.
Stuart Bradford

Now that recorded sound has become ubiquitous, we hardly think about it. From our smartphones, smart speakers, TVs, radios, disc players, and car sound systems, it’s an enduring and enjoyable presence in our lives. In 2017, a survey by the polling firm Nielsen suggested that some 90 percent of the U.S. population listens to music regularly and that, on average, they do so 32 hours per week.

Behind this free-flowing pleasure are enormous industries applying technology to the long-standing goal of reproducing sound with the greatest possible realism. From Edison’s phonograph and the horn speakers of the 1880s, successive generations of engineers in pursuit of this ideal invented and exploited countless technologies: triode vacuum tubes, dynamic loudspeakers, magnetic phonograph cartridges, solid-state amplifier circuits in scores of different topologies, electrostatic speakers, optical discs, stereo, and surround sound. And over the past five decades, digital technologies, like audio compression and streaming, have transformed the music industry.

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