Why do we manufacture “Trash” ?

The world seems to be inundated with manufactured trash.

By that I mean things which are made but, due to poor specification and/or manufacture, will never serve the purpose for which they were intended thereby rendering them totally useless.

This is a total waste of resources, both natural and economic, and the unnecessary transportation of this garbage to its ultimate destination is an environmental disaster.

This story shows how much time, money and effort can be expended in trying to cope with this problem, along with identifying totally useless items which are being manufactured.

We were trying to replace the exhaust on my car.  I needed a new back box (silencer) and centre section; two absolutely standard pieces of manufactured metal for a popular, if ageing vehicle… a late ’97 Peugeot 406 TD Estate. (for those of you to whom this means nothing, imagine it as a Station Wagon from a French manufacturer).

We went to a local parts centre and collected the two pieces.  Travel: 10 miles. Road toll 80p ($1.50)

When we tried to fit the centre section to the existing piece which contains the catalytic converter (original from factory) it was a ridiculously loose fit.  Back to the parts centre.  Okay so, on this occasion, they realised they had given us the wrong part.  Their book showed two options…. 60mm diameter and 54mm diameter and they had sold us the 60mm by mistake.  Away we went with the 54mm pipe.  Travel: 10 miles. Road toll 80p ($1.50)

When we got home we realised that this pipe was actually too long and, because it had a flanged end, we would not be able to cut it to length because that would just mean cutting off all of the flange.  Back we went,  we got our money back and went to a different shop.  Their 54mm pipe was the right length (we took the old one from the car with us so as to be sure).  Back home.  Travel: 12 miles. Road toll 80p ($1.50)

This time the pipe almost fitted… but after an hour or so of getting it on so far, but not quite far enough to create a seal, we gave up.  With the centre section wedged as well as it would fit we had tested the back box in place, and had found that both the centre section and the back box had their ends welded on a couple of degrees off straight, which meant that they could only just be forced to fit together properly, but this would put undue tension on them and would lead to an early failure.

The back box was taken back to shop 1, the centre pipe was taken back to shop 2, and further replacements were obtained from yet another shop… but their book showed the centre pipe as being 54.5mm.  This looked hopeful !  Travel: 14 miles. Road toll 80p ($1.50)

This time it took longer to find the tools again than it did to actually fit it all together.  Perfect !

So what is the cost of all the waste ?

To us….

36 unnecessary miles travelled.
£2.40 in road tolls ($4.50).
In total some 7 hours of travelling, shopping, failed fitting etc.

But in environmental terms…

1 centre pipe of 54mm diameter, which is also too long.
1 centre pipe of 54mm diameter with an end welded on incorrectly.
1 back box with an end welded on incorrectly.

Each of these uses raw materials which are then manufactured into sheet metal, which is then re-manufactured into a pipe or a silencer, and all of this is transported from God knows where to God knows where before being delivered to the shops….. and all made to specifications which are guaranteed to render them useless, or to a quality which will ensure early part failure.

In these days of computerised data there is no excuse for the specifications being wrong.  The fact that the welds were so poor shows a total lack of quality control in the manufacturing process.

Somebody, somewhere, needs to legislate against this.

I would guess that the parts were imports from Eastern Europe, so the environmental transportation cost involved is colossal.

The world is being swamped with wasteful, totally useless, junk.  Why ?

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