With a new iPhone reaching the markets almost every September, people are eager to get the latest technology. While some attempt to sell their old devices, others opt to throw them out usually without considering recycling.
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, approximately 150 million mobile phones are discarded each year in the USA. Along with this, up to 35,000 pounds of copper and 772 pounds of silver can be recovered per 1 million devices recycled.
The problem is that most people do not know about or take the time to recycle their old devices. In fact, only 14-17% of discarded devices are recycled each year.
What is this doing to the environment?
Cell phones contain toxic materials such as hexavalent chromium, arsenic, beryllium, and cadmium and account for 70% of toxic waste in landfills. The technology contaminates the water, air, and soil that they are dumped near.
By recycling one cell phone, the contamination of up to 60,000 liters of water can be avoided. But this is not just about the lack of recycling knowledge, it also involves the rapid phone production from companies such as Apple.
Apple attempts and usually succeeds in convincing the public that they need to spend over 1,000 dollars on the latest iPhone each year.
One way that they succeed in this is by slowing down the older generations of iPhones and cutting them off from new updates. This forces people to move on from their older phones sooner than necessary, causing a huge waste of technology.
Peer pressure also plays a role in it. I’ve felt criticized for still owning the iPhone 6 which is old compared to the iPhone 11 that recently came out.
Many people treat it as a level of social class. The newer the phone you have, the richer you must be. I’ve noticed people like to flaunt their new Apple products online to try to make others jealous and to feel better about themselves.
In fact, the average American gets a new phone every 18-20 months even though the average lifespan of an iPhone is 51 months.
The phone industries have convinced us our phones cannot last longer than 1-2 years even though they can be used for over four years!
This is where the money comes from. If everyone buys a new phone every year, they will make four times the amount of profit they would get if people only purchased a new phone every four years.
Phone companies, especially Apple, need to stop prioritizing profit over the environment since, in a way, they are responsible for over half of the toxic waste in landfills.
In addition, they should be responsible for informing the public on the proper ways to dispose of old electronics, and they should have sites available for people to drop off their devices when they are no longer able to be used.
By not taking responsibility for the consequences of the products they are creating, they are showing that they do not care about our planet. They have created this mess, and they should have to clean it up.
In a way, the world is depending on it.