High technology must haves like smartphones bear heavy environmental costs From Irina Slave at oilprice.com:
They are among the biggest—and most generous—backers of the renewable energy shift. They are advertising themselves as environmentally responsible companies that source their raw materials from ethical locations and cutting the offering of products that consumers don’t use to reduce packaging-related emissions. And they are the driver behind a global electronic waste crisis. Meet Big Tech. Last year, Apple said its iPhone 12 will sell without a charging adapter, like the latest Apple Watches, to reduce the amount of electronic waste its products generate.
“There are also over 2 billion Apple power adapters out there in the world, and that’s not counting the billions of third-party adapters. We’re removing these items from the iPhone box, which reduces carbon emissions and avoids the mining and use of precious materials,” Wired quoted Apple’s VP of environment, policy, and social initiatives, Lisa Jackson.
Yet it’s not the chargers that are the big problem, according to e-waste experts. Last year, the world generated a record amount of e-waste, topping 53.6 million metric tons, E-Waste Monitor said in its latest report. This amount represented a 21-percent increase over five years. And e-waste will continue growing, the report warned. It could reach 74 million metric tons by 2030.
Recycling rates, meanwhile, are meager. Last year, they stood at less than 20 percent of the total e-waste the world generated. Unless something changes very quickly and radically, this rate is unlikely to change much in the future, either.