The US based Story of Stuff Project has just released their next film, The Story of Electronics. It cleverly explains how the electronics industry ‘design for the dump’ instead of ‘design to last’ practices are hurting our environment and the health of workers who recycle our old products. The film reiterates what Greenpeace and other environmental organizations around the world have been asking the electronics industry for years, eliminate hazardous substances, take responsibility for obsolete products, and redesign electronics to last longer.
Last week, Greenpeace released the 16th edition of the Guide to Greener Electronics applauding the progress the industry has made. Philips released the first ever PVC and BFR free TV, the Econova, and Panasonic put into place a TV take back program in India, another industry first. These steps forward are a welcome momentum, but what Greenpeace, and this film shows, is more green solutions in the electronics industry is desperately needed.
Though its possible to find many more PVC and BFR free products on the market than in 2006 when the Guide to Greener Electronics was first launched, the industry is still lacking in efforts to take responsibility for the end of life of its own products. And as our Cool IT campaign is demanding, the electronics industry must also use their innovation to create solutions to combat climate change.
The Story of Electronics says that if all our obsolete electronics products ended up in the garage of the electronics industry’s CEOs we would definitely see more and safer recycling programs across the world, I couldn’t agree more. Right now, legal and illegal exporting of electronics products are moving from developed to developing nations where workers are breaking down mobile phones and laptops with rudimentary tools and practices with little to no protection. And the UN estimates that upwards of 40 million tons of e-waste is generated globally each year.
In 2008, Greenpeace campaigners traveled to Ghana to expose the hidden hazardous involved in ‘recycling’ e-waste in developing nations with no infrastructure to do so safely. Not only are the workers being poisoned by the leaching and releasing of toxic chemicals as they break down our old electronics, but so is the water and the land around these scrapyards.
The Story of Electronics is a great film that shows us the lifecycle of the electronics products we have in our homes and what changes the industry must make in order to truly produce greener products.