Bad E-waste News Can Be Good News for Greater Awareness
As a successful manufacturer, Apple obviously strives to provide its customers with the most up-to-date technology for the modern world. Unfortunately, Apple has replaced the power and data connector port on its legacy phones with a smaller port, rendering obsolete the millions of spare charging cords and docks that its customers have accumulated, experts say. With this one design decision, Apple has contributed to the massive and growing global e-waste problem.
While producing Redemtech’s bi-monthly e-waste news editions these past five years, I have observed that news of what is bad for the e-waste stream may be good for increasing awareness of the problem. In recent months, the number of e-waste stories appearing in the mainstream and tech industry news media has seriously dwindled, becoming as rare as polar bears on ice skates (most are trading them in for swim trunks and water wings. REALLY BIG water wings.)
But as soon at the new iPhone 5 began grabbing headlines, several astute writers and editors started postulating about its impact on the environment, chiefly, what will happen to the old phones the new iPhone 5 will undoubtedly replace. Many “old” iPhones will be sold to other users, extending the life of the units, which is preferable to throwing them away. Other phones may find their way into recycling streams, while more than a few might be tossed into a drawer and forgotten. Proper disposition becomes iffy after that. The same applies to other common forms of technology, ranging from business computers and peripherals to data center hardware and medical devices.
When new technology is not threatening to burden the already overloaded e-waste crisis around the world, news coverage that I find tends to be confined to local stories about e-waste collection drives. While it’s admirable that so many organizations and communities are now hosting collection activities, it raises the question of what kind of recyclers are working with these sincere groups to manage the donations. Do they practice good e-waste recycling stewardship or do they strip out the parts they want and ship the scrap to developing nations?
E-waste should be a topic that has a high priority in the news media. A day should not pass without some publication producing a story about this global crisis, whether it has a readership of millions or merely serves a localized community. Googling or Binging “e-waste” should net results that educate and define the problem. The e-waste crisis can only be diminished through greater awareness.