I've been discussing this with relatives, colleagues, friends. Since Lead-Free is now the rule for any items being imported into Europe (with some exceptions, including products for military use), we are now being told that the washing machine we just paid $1700 for will last 5 - 10 years, rather than the 15 - 20 years for older generation large appliances. Isn't that counterproductive? It seems we aim to fill up landfills with washers, dryers, TVs, fridges, etc., more quickly.
Even if these items can be recycled, the lead-free solder used takes more labor and energy to separate. Again, isn't that counter to our new environmentally friendly objectives?
It is my understanding that lead materials from landfills do NOT get into our drinking water throught the ground water, because lead is too heavy, and just remains where it lands. Food for thought indeed - we should always be aware that taking the easiest route is not always the best, whether it's homework, or housecleaning, feeding the neediest, or the "greening" of our consumption.