Technology companies make e-waste recycling difficult
E-waste has become a global problem. Unlike ordinary waste, e-waste contains heavy metals and hazardous chemicals, and these wastes also include some "conflict materials." In addition, due to the limited nature of metallic materials, people will have to go deeper into the ocean to find alternatives.
To receive WiFi signals, cell phone antennas need coltan ... and there are not many coltans in the world, and deep-sea biologist Andrew Thaler told the Fastcompany website, "When their life in electronic devices is exhausted, We don't have a good recycling channel ... if the minerals on the sea surface are dug up, we need to continue deep into the ocean and look for these resources.
Technology companies responsible for most of the responsibilities
In manufacturing e-waste, technology companies may be responsible for most of the responsibilities. Take mobile phones as an example. After two years of use, they start to malfunction or fail to run the latest operating system. This is the manufacturer's "planned retirement" strategy, which is designed to force users to upgrade to new equipment.
In 2015, ENDS Europe found that the lifespan of electronic equipment is declining. Even large household appliances have a longer life than before, and more appliances need to be replaced within five years.
"Many companies are beginning to adopt a" planned retirement "strategy. At the end of the year, these devices will no longer work. You must purchase an upgraded version," Thaler explained. "If the smartphone can be used for 10 years, we don't need to focus too much on electronics Recycling equipment and looking for ways to dispose of a lot of e-waste. But nowadays people have to switch to a new phone every two years. "
Thaler advises technology companies to reduce "code redundancy." Software engineers should write streamlined systems to accommodate various levels of hardware. "Tech companies don't have the power to streamline software to run smoothly on older devices," he said. "If the processor of a smartphone changes, you need to write a new system because the basic structure of the phone has changed, so you need a new Systems and new phones. However, in most cases, the basic structure will not change so quickly, but the software will become larger and larger. "
Electronic waste is not easy to solve
Due to the profit-seeking demand of manufacturers, the problem of electronic waste is not easy to solve. "Silicon Valley companies want people to spend more because consumption leads to increased profits," said Bruce Olszewski of San Jose State University. "The driving force of capitalism is always profit maximization. The problem is the lack of confrontation mechanisms to advance society. Public welfare or reduce pollution. "
Nevertheless, Olszewsik believes that this problem is not insurmountable. "We need those who create problems to pay, and this requires tough leaders," he said. "This is actually a question of how to create a new economy. The government has a responsibility to identify social needs and promote sustainable economic development."