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This crosses into the "ethics of being a designer" but I suppose there's a certain extent at which you have to decide which battles you pick.

For example - you are fighting for a greener strategy on the overmold, but what about the lithium ion batteries which are also going to most likely end up getting thrown in the trash to eventually leach heavy metals into the earth? Overmold won't break down, but it also is going to do a far less impact to the environment and can at least be burned.

We see Tesla's as the green car, transportation of the future. But we blindside ourselves to the amount of energy needed to produce a new car in general, and the massive amount of batteries we'll be dumping into the ground 5 or 10 years from now when your car won't hold a charge. The environmental impact of issues like that suddenly makes you think "is this overmold the battle we need to win? or is it just the battle I feel like I can pick and feel good about".

I would argue if that is your passion, there are plenty of areas where you can focus that energy. My sister in law is a green-architect who left her job entirely to focus on pushing for recycled and green materials in building construction. But I can tell you as a jaded designer that spending a decade making widgets means most people are going to sound like Slippy's VP who realize that most of these are goose chases that won't change the way consumers buy product, or the reality is the best product should be one that is designed and built to last forever - there's a reason so many people say "they don't make them like they used to". My 4 year old, $600 Dyson just broke because it was made of plastic, but my mothers 1970's electrolux still works like a tank. If Dyson cared about sustainability they'd build things that are tanks and that can be easily repaired, but unfortunately that's not as profitable or sustainable business model.

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Cyberdemon wrote:This crosses into the "ethics of being a designer" but I suppose there's a certain extent at which you have to decide which battles you pick.

I like the term "hand-picked hypocrisy" (apologies to G -Love).

Its a noble cause, which ever of the battles you might pick, whether ridding the world of toxic non-recyclable overmolds, or discarded Tesla batteries.

And on a more meta-jaded level, whatever you can sell as being an environmentally better or energy-efficient solution will net you personally the most benefit (see Fuseproject Juno C1 for one example).
“Traveling through hyperspace isn't like dusting crops, boy."

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To the original poster,

As a long time power and hand tool designer (I've designed tools for B&D, DeWALT, Craftsman, Ryobi, AEG and many others), I can tell you we've tried everything under the sun to provide enhanced grip and tactile feel outside of overmolding - often for various reasons aside from recycling. I tried to be a driving force for recycling / reuse/ end-of-life disassembly during my 12 years at B&D but my efforts were never embraced.

Many of the comments above (ie, users won't disassemble it anyway) are sadly true but don't let that stop you from trying, as we will only change the perceptions and actions of users with constant reinforcement of a more responsible way to do things - and it'll take generations to do so.
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We need first of all a good idea of how to prioritize global sustainability programs.
And we need more and more innovation and education geared towards the reprocessing phase.

Overmolding is a superior technique, although for many applications you can find ways to join the flexible and rigid part separately for disassembly, like stretching it over a flange or over the entire product. Also flexible bioplastics are already available and further in development. Then again it will be more long-term thinking if there can be a process to melt and regrind the plastic so the elastomer/silicone is left from the overmolded product. We can always process rest material into materials such as bricks and leave them in static structures until we can reprocess them in the future in a more advanced way.
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Petro Chemicals aren't recyclable, they are only downcycled and destined either for burning or dumped. One alternative is PLA, it works fine as long as it is kept away from long exposure in the elements, like iron. I'm 3d printing working parts with it and they work perfectly well, if not better than ABS.



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