“The greenest smartphone is the one you already have,” said Cole Stratton, associate instructor at Indiana University Bloomington. “Smartphones seem so small and insignificant, so long as you haven’t studied supply chains and realized all that goes into making [them]You really have no idea how destructive these things are to the environment.”
Right-to-repair advocates hope that recent regulatory attention will eventually be the momentum needed to push manufacturers to make repairs more widely accessible.
“If we can’t repair our stuff, the result is we throw too much away,” Gay Gordon-Byrne, executive director of the Repair Union, a coalition fighting for the right to repair, told Granthshala. “We can no longer cope with the volume … we are swimming in products that we can no longer recycle.”
Experts say the supply chain for consumer electronics is global and complex, making it difficult to determine the full extent of its environmental impact.
On an individual scale, it’s not much; This equates to a 130-mile car journey from Los Angeles to San Diego. But multiply that by the millions of iPhones sold each year and it adds up fast. Then, apply a similar calculation to the countless other personal devices we use every day – laptops, desktops, tablets, smart watches, smart speakers, smart headphones, and more – and you get a sense of the carbon footprint of creating a new consumer. Is. Electronics.
“What happens before it reaches the device is very physically and energetically intense – that’s where the most greenhouse gas is emitted and where the most violent ecological change occurs,” Stratton said.
According to Stratton, making consumer electronic devices requires the use of non-renewable, rare-earth metals that are resource-intensive and cannot be easily replaced with other components.
For example, europium and terbium are needed to make an HD screen; Zinc and tin help create touch-responsive surfaces; And lithium is used in batteries – just to name a few. Stratton said that even with advances in sustainable materials, not building a new device is still the most environmentally friendly option.
case for right to repair
Apple did not respond to a request for comment for this story. During a Congressional Judiciary Committee hearing in 2019, Apple said it controlled the repair process over safety and reliability concerns. equipment manufacturer It also says repair restrictions help protect trade secrets and consumer privacy. But if consumers are forced to take their broken devices to licensed stores, restrictions could also benefit, said Gartner analyst Apo Markken. And it boosts sales if consumers have to replace their devices every few years.
“We’ve always had the right to repair our stuff because we paid for it, but we’ve lost it as a society,” Gordon-Byrne said.
Advocates say these restrictions take away the public’s right to do what they want with their products, and harm small repair businesses that can help preserve older equipment if they use the proper resources. can reach.
“We have fantastic technicians, and our team has figured out how to repair stuff without needing a repair manual from the manufacturer,” Tech Dump CEO Amanda LaGrange told Granthshala. “We can scale up a lot faster, we can do a lot more repairs, if we can access repair parts and have access to repair manuals.”
The link between e-waste and right-to-repair
The end of a product’s life cycle is also troubling for the environment. Manufacturers arguing against right-to-repair often state that recycling compensates for the need to replace equipment regularly. But experts say it is not that easy.
The team dropped them off at recycling and donation centers across the United States, saying they branded themselves as “eco-friendly” and “sustainable” and placed “tighter controls on exports” to developing countries.
But Puckett’s team found that about a third of the electronics they tracked ended up in places like Pakistan, Thailand, Mexico, the Dominican Republic and Kenya, with 87% of the devices landed in Asia, particularly rural Hong Kong.
When Puckett and his team arrived at one of their first destinations in Hong Kong – which they found using GPS coordinates on device trackers – they said they found workers recklessly dismantling e-waste. Workers dismantle parts such as fluorescent lights used for flat-screen TVs or monitors; Once damaged, these devices release undetected mercury vapor that is toxic to public health and the environment.
“Chasing the end of life of electronics is really disappointing,” Puckett told Granthshala. “At the end of the whole cycle, real horror shows can happen.”
Even recyclers who process waste responsibly say that the process can be difficult, as consumer electronics can contain metals and toxic chemicals, and plastics that are expensive to process, according to LaGrange.
Repair advocates say both consumers and companies should take a comprehensive view of how we handle appliances from start to finish. Puckett said manufacturers should especially consider the damage devices and their components can cause to the environment.
“You have to take the toxicity out and design things from the get-go to last for a really long time,” Puckett said.
“The Internet of Things is terrible for everyone in my job, because we’re just seeing piles and piles of electronic waste,” said LaGrange, a right-to-repair advocate for nearly seven years.
“The fact that we’re still having this conversation is surprising,” she said. “What was encouraging about President Biden’s work … is that we have known that repairs have been important for years, they are for people, for our planet, for local jobs, for all things digital equity.” So there was something really encouraging about what’s being seen. But at the same time, there are still a lot of restrictions.”
Credit : www.cnn.com