College Newspaper Reports How AirPods and Other Popular Devices Significantly Contribute to E-Waste

By B.N. Frank

Apple AirPods are worn inside the ears and they are very popular despite the fact that they can and do catch fire.  They also emit Electromagnetic Radiation (aka “Electrosmog”) and exposure to that can cause all kinds of symptoms and health problems in addition to increased risk for cancer (see 1, 2).  In fact, exposure to all sources of wireless radiation can disrupt the blood-brain barrier which can cause it to leak.  Thanks to the Independent Student Newspaper of the University of New Hampshire for addressing how AirPods increased popularity is also increasing E-waste:

Since Apple’s release of the AirPods in 2016, many University of New Hampshire (UNH) students no longer appear to be “plugged in.” The popular wireless earbuds quickly replaced many users’ EarPods, Apple’s previous wired version of the headphones. Meanwhile, those same technological trends are contributing to e-waste in the era of climate change.

UN January 2019 press release found that 50 million tons of electronic and electrical waste, better known as e-waste, is produced per year. For comparison, every commercial airline produced weighs less than 50 million tons. Of the 50 million tons of annual e-waste, only 20 million tons are formally recycled. The other 30 million tons are either informally recycled or put into landfills contaminating soil and groundwater.

Formal and informal recycling differs in their processes. Informal recycling does not allow for toxin control, according to DW.com. Most informal recycling is done by hand in developing countries. Workers are exposed to the hazardous substances that e-waste contains like “mercury, lead and cadmium.” The UN’s press release added that annual e-waste is valued at over $62.5 billion, greater than the GDP of the majority of countries, such as Afghanistan, Belize and Lithuania.

One cause of e-waste stems from what Dr. Coulombe calls “planned obsolescence,” or a purposeful lifespan of a product. This intended lifespan forces consumers to purchase more and more of the product.

“Apple is kind of the poster child for planned obsolescence – this idea that we are going to make products that last for three, maybe four years…and [then] you’ll need to replace them,” he said.

Apple has adopted ideas from the circular economy model. The 2019 report states that Daisy the robot can deconstruct 15 versions of the iPhone, recovering a portion of the finite materials used during construction. These finite materials include aluminum, cobalt, copper, rare earth elements, steel, tin and tungsten. There is no Daisy for AirPods, though, as Dr. Coulombe said, “the issue with AirPods is they’re next to impossible to dispose of because of the way they are constructed…the irony of AirPods is that they are literally glued in a way so that you cannot take them apart, and so that they’re made to basically become trash.”

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Apple is not the only company found guilty of planned obsolescence but did face a class action lawsuit after revealing that it slowed down outdated versions of the iPhone in 2017, according to Forbes.com.

“From a business standpoint it’s brilliant…but from an environmental standpoint it’s obviously devastating,” Dr. Coulombe said.

Of course, the increased popularity of ALL digital, electronic, and wireless devices among people of all ages is increasing E-Waste. “Electrosmog”, and illness.  Activity trackers, home assistants, and the like are very trendy.  But they aren’t green.  If all of us continue to use and rely on environmentally unfriendly tech, we will all be up an even skankier toxic shit creek without a paddle.

Activist Post reports regularly about all issues associated with digital, electronic, and wireless technology.  For more information visit our archives and the following websites:

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