As long as demand for new technology is louder than concern over the disposal of old technology, corporations won’t make responsible clean-up a high priority. Without pressure from the public, corporations in the U.S. have very little incentive to change their business practices to incorporate more environmentally- and health-conscious practices. What incentive they do have comes from us. As long as we have money in our pockets to spend on their gadgets, we have influence over the corporations.
Here are some ways you can influence corporations and do right by the planet while still getting the latest gadgets.
- Contact your local legislature and encourage them to pass laws regulating the transfer of toxic waste, such as e-waste, to foreign countries. The Basal Convention of 1989 saw many countries around the world agree to stop exporting toxic waste beyond their own borders. However, the U.S. has still not agreed to it. Click here for links to contact your elected officials.
- Ensure that your old devices are recycled properly. e-Stewards Certifications are given to electronics recycling facilities that commit to proper care of the materials and the workers handling them. Click here to find an e-Stewards certified recycling center near you.
- Consider purchasing devices from companies that participate in Product Takeback programs. According to the Pacific Northwest Pollution Prevention Resource Center (PPRC), Product Takeback programs “give manufacturers the physical responsibility for products and/or packaging at the end of their useful lives. By accepting used products, manufacturers can acquire low-cost feedstock for new manufacture or remanufacture, and offer a value-added service to the buyer” (PPRC 2004). Takeback programs, while currently voluntary in the U.S., encourage companies to:
- Reuse material from older devices
- Develop new materials that are easier to reuse or safer to dispose of when manufacturing new devices
- Invest in technologies with longer shelf lives
By following these tips, and putting to work that mega-processor in your new smartphone, you can make a positive impact on the problem of e-waste.
Peiry, K. “Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal.” United Nations Environment Programme. 2008. Web. 27 Mar 2012.
“Product Stewardship for Manufacturers.” Pacific Northwest Pollution Prevention Resource Center. 2004. Web. 27 Mar 2012.