Electronic waste finds big life with popularity of Apple

This guest post is contributed by Lillian Swift.

Credit: Apple

While new technology reduces paper waste significantly, there is great concern over e-waste. For the uninitiated, e-waste refers to discarded computers, cell phones, and other electronic or computing devices. End-of-life electronic waste is a major contributor to pollution and waste problems all over the globe. When Apple’s iPad hit the scene, it was lauded as one of the most eco-friendly tablet PCs on the market. The reality is that the popular tablet is likely to have some non-green effects on the environment.

One of the biggest impacts the iPad has on the environment has to do with its production. iPad manufacturing requires the use of some very precious metals. Additionally, manufacturing the iPad requires a great deal of other global resources, and will use a significant amount of energy throughout the tablet PC’s lifespan. Also, iPad end-of-life management is lacking. Consumers, corporations and manufacturers are discarding end-of-life tablet PCs.

The good news is that there are several old and new waste management companies making strides to remove e-waste and promote recycling. The problem has to do with our addiction to new technology. Each year Apple releases a newer and flashier iPad. This means that new and continuing iPad users discard old smart phones, laptops and tablet PC gadgets in favor of the iPad.

Many new startups see the benefit of taking in electronic waste. Recycling has shifted the importance from managing electronic waste to getting the value out of older gadgets. While a first generation or refurbished iPad may be outdated in some respects, it is far from an obsolete computing gadget. This is the frame of reference more electronic gadget users need to adopt. Because of aggressive advertising campaigns, gadgets as little as 6 months old can be viewed as obsolete. This stems from an effort to push consumers to buy new products as they come out.

In the months and years ahead, we are likely to see some push-back from Apple users on environmental issues. This comes at a time when Apple is under fire for adverse working conditions at the iPad and iPhone manufacturing plants in China. Apple product users are becoming more educated, and are pushing Apple to make a more ethical iPad device. Since Apple fights hard to stay in the good graces of the public, it’s likely to see them advocate even more improvement for electronic waste in the future.

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