An investigation by the environmental audit committee in the UK has found that companies like Apple and Amazon need to do more to tackle electronic waste. The companies need to be responsible for collecting, recycling, and preparing their products to help reduce electronic waste in the UK which ranks number two in the world when it comes to the amount of electronic waste generated by a country.
Apple’s “planned obsolesce” and “impossible repairs” contributing towards electronic waste in the UK
The Members of Parliament (MPs) in the UK pointed out the “planned obsolesce” of electronic products created by the likes of Apple, which reduce the lifespan of products, especially because they make any repair “impossible” due to the usage of glue and soldering of components. This echoes the calls of campaigns such as “right to repair”, which ask for companies to provide detailed information and tools so that users can potentially repair their products themselves, or through unauthorized third-party repair centers.
Although Apple’s products are not ‘impossible’ to repair, the company has been moving towards a position where only its stores or authorized repair centers can fix some of the newest products. The company allows third-party repair centers to apply for its authorized service program and gain access to the same tools and information that Apple has, to fix devices, but it is limited to certain businesses and not all of them can afford it.
Along with repairability, Apple already spends considerable effort to use recycled material, provide trade-in and recycling resources, and reduce its carbon footprint, in every country that it operates in.
As per The Guardian, Apple gave the following statement in response to the report:
“We were surprised and disappointed with the Environmental Audit Committee’s report, which does not reflect any of Apple’s efforts to conserve resources and protect the planet we all share. There are more options for customers to trade in, recycle and get safe, quality repairs than ever before, and our latest Apple Watch, iPad, and iPhone lineup all use recycled material across key components. We will continue to work with parliament and the government to document Apple’s industry-leading commitments and to support our common effort to leave a clean economy and a healthy planet for the next generation.”
The MPs also pointed out Amazon and eBay for increasing electronic waste in the UK as they are not legally required to reduce waste or recycle like retailers. However, Amazon disputed this and responded with the following statement:
“Amazon is committed to minimising waste and helping our customers to reuse, repair, and recycle their products, and we provide a range of options that anyone can easily access through the Amazon Second Chance website. We have supported the recycling of more than 10,000 tonnes of electronic waste in the UK over the last decade.”
When we consider that Apple’s biggest market is not the UK, but UK still ranks number two in terms of the amount of electronic waste generated, there must be other companies and sources contributing towards the waste.