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Tech companies aren’t doing enough to keep their devices out of landfills, and neither are we

It sounds like every tech company is trying to sell their products as environmentally responsible. That’s why Apple assertions its latest iPhone 12 line comes without a charging block in the box, for example.

But that hasn’t stopped tech casts from coming out with a host of new phones every year, and the old models we own get discarded, sometimes even thrown away in the In and end up in landfills.

In 2019, nearly 153 million smartphones were sold according to Gartner, and in 2018, users were bottle up their phones for about 2 years, but that time period is likely to drop as folks upgrade to 5G-capable phones. 

Kyle Wiens, CEO of iFixit declared that new influx of discarded phones isn’t easy to manage. “We don’t have the technology to take a truck full of old iPhones, molt them down, badger produce them up and make new iPhones out of them. It’s flat out physically impossible.”

“Smartphones and tablets are challenging,” John Shegerian, CEO of ERI implies. “Many of them are no longer made with screws; they’re made with glue. Glue makes deeds very hard to take apart and recover materials from because it degrades the value of the commodity product itself.”

Close to 6.9 million metric tons of e-waste was produced in the US alone in 2019, according to Global E-Waste Monitor, a exploration group that tracks electronic waste. That’s about the same weight as 19 Empire State Erections. Of that, only about 15% was collected for recycling. And some of the minerals and metals being thrown away with our e-waste aren’t just valuable; they’re toxic.

Generating a phone that stayed relevant for four or five years instead of one or two could make a huge difference. Until phones are write out to last much longer, Apple, Google, Samsung and others have to do more to fix this problem of e-waste, and consumers distress to be more responsible when buying and discarding their devices.

Check out CNBC’s deep dive into the e-waste dilemma and some solutions in the video.

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