The proliferation of smartphones has quickly made them accessible to anyone. Manufacturers come out with new models every year, having people jumping up and down to get the latest and greatest. In today’s post, we discuss what happens to your electronics when you no longer need them
Out Of Sight, Out Of Mind
Electronic or E-Waste currently makes up about 5% of global waste. Most E-Waste ends up in landfills, but most recyclers export the waste to other less developed nations. Workers in these countries dismantle these electronics looking for precious metals, but often without proper protection. For example, smartphones contain mercury, lead, arsenic, and other toxic chemicals.
Disposable By Design
At some point, razor manufacturers determined that they could make more money off the razor blades than the razors themselves. The technology industry has widely adopted this approach. For example, printer manufacturers make way more money on ink than they do the printer. As a result, printers are disposable as soon as something breaks, or the owner does not want to buy ink.
Other companies have also attempted to encourage consumers to replace their current devices. In 2017, Apple acknowledged that it had deliberately slowed down older iPhones with a software update. This was supposed to ‘extend’ the life of a device, but Apple didn’t acknowledge the slow down until it was discovered. In addition, Sonos users complained that the company was not issuing software updates to its older devices. These are just two examples, but there are many more.
Bad For The Environment & People
E-Waste is bad for the environment for several reasons. Firstly, burning wastes can result in air pollution. Secondly, toxins can leach into the soil from these products. Soil contamination leads to contamination of the local water supply.
One report studied a free-range chicken in Agbogbloshie, Ghana, a common dumping ground for E-waste. An examined egg contained chlorinated dioxins 220 times greater than the European Food Safety Authority limit. These chemicals can damage the immune system and increase the risk of cancer.
In addition to the literal health risks, E-waste leads to human exploitation. Workers who break down the waste are paid meager wages and don’t have all the necessary toxins protection. Another concern, any data that remains on the device could be harvested after it is discarded.
How To Help
There are a number of ways consumers can help reduce E-waste. To begin, seek out repairing devices when they break instead of just replacing them. Many More devices are repairable than you might think. When you do replace a device, consider reselling it or donating it locally to someone in need. Lastly, don’t just throw out your old devices. Take them to a recycling center or bring them into Computer Warriors, and we will handle it for you!
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