It is becoming more common for computers, phones and other digital devices to be thrown out, which is bad for the environment and consumers. An Object Lesson.
Apple already has sold millions of the iPhone 7 since it began shipping this month. Many who purchased one said that the new model replaces an older model. An iPhone can start to show signs of wear after a few years. The home button might stick or the glass may crack. These defects can sometimes be fixed, but few people choose to upgrade over repair. Some are due to planned obsolescence. Apple’s latest operating software, iOS 10, uses haptic features extensively that require an iPhone 6s, which was released last year.
People replace everything: tablets, smartphones, phablets and laptops. Electronics are often discarded because of their fragility, slowdown or simply the availability of a better model. Electronics are not only discarded out of laziness, but also because they have a high economic value. For example, buying a printer can be cheaper than buying ink cartridges.
Two major negative effects on the environment result from an increase in electronics consumption. It increases the need to mine and procure materials for gadget production. Second, electronic waste is produced by discarded devices. This waste could be reduced by reuse, repair, and resale. It is not clear if it will ever be.
While electronic waste has always been a problem, the speed and quantity of electronic garbage have increased in recent years. In the past, televisions were kept in households for more than a decade. There are very few devices that last more than two years after being purchased by the original owner due to technological advances and consumer demand. The report by ENDS Europe agency shows that built-in obsolescence has increased the percentage of appliances sold to replace defective ones from 3.5 percent to 8.3 percent between 2004 and 2012. In 2013, the share of large appliances that needed to be replaced within five years increased from 7 percent to 13 percent of total replacements in 2004, to 7 percent in 2013. A 2014 Gallup poll found that 89 percent of young adults (18-29 years old) have smartphones, while 41 percent of older generations own VCRs.
Semiconductors are now widely used and new players have entered the market from India, Brazil, China and India. This has made it easier to make portable devices and less expensive. Software updates have been used by manufacturers to give preference to newer models of smartphones, and computers. This has invisibly pushed consumers to purchase new devices to keep their experience equal. Companies have also been ending support for older models and the operating systems they run on them more frequently. Facebook and WhatsApp, for instance, have recently declared they will no longer support certain models of Blackberry.
Printer manufacturers realized that ink and toner can be more profitable than selling the printer hardware. A Financial Times report shows that a gallon ink costs around $8,000. The prices of printers are so low, that consumers may be tempted to purchase a new machine once they have used up their initial supply.
Electronic waste that is not properly disposed of can cause toxic effects on soil and water supplies.
This post was written by Steven Elia Co-Founder and Recycling Director at eCycle Florida. eCycle Florida is a R2 Certified electronics recycling company in the state of Florida. Our processes and procedures are dedicated to the proper destruction and recycling of your electronics. eCycle Florida is your go-to for Pinellas County electronics recycling.