Consumers of electronic devices should be given the right to repair their devices instead of it being an afterthought as it is now.
2019 saw a massive 53.6 million tons of e-waste produced worldwide. This amount of waste is potentially catastrophic for our planet. On one hand, there’s the need to dispose of the e-waste which often leads to the production of more carbon. On the other hand, the mining of rare earth elements costs the world a lot in terms of carbon and risks to human health.
Now, on to the benefits of repairing old mobile phones and such instead of throwing them away.
According to the European Environmental Bureau (EBB), if we can keep our smartphones operational for even just a single year, we’d be saving the equivalent CO2 of two million cars. No trivial feat. So, the problem is, a lot of modern devices aren’t really easy to repair. They’re really just designed to be used once and thrown away.
Fortunately, there are people and organisations fighting back against this throwaway culture.
As highlighted by the BBC, there are individuals like Suhaib, who gained a reputation in school for being the go to person for mobile phone repairs. There are also repair cafés, which allow people with broken electronics they have no idea how to repair, to people who have the skills to fix them. Repair cafés exist worldwide and often, the people enacting the repairs are volunteers.
Part of the problem with repairing old smartphones specifically, can come down to manufacturers ending their support for them and older hardware being unable to run newer operating systems. The ability to repair our devices and therefore save the planet, may come down to legislation being passed that prevents product support being dropped too early or making devices that are impossible to repair.
Everyone should have the right and the choice to repair their old devices. If it were easier to do so, we believe that more people would.