By B.N. Frank
Environmentalists continue to warn that Apple AirPods (which also catch fire) are adding to already dangerously high levels of unrecyclable toxic E-Waste. Of course, AirPods aren’t the only popular wearables being manufactured, purchased, and fated to become E-Waste (see 1, 2, 3).
So those who buy wearables are being increasingly chastised even though tech proponents continue to promote Internet of Things (IoT) technology as being essential to a healthier environment. This doesn’t make sense. IoT has a high failure rate as well as enormous cybersecurity and privacy risks (see 1, 2, 3, 4). Therefore, frequent replacement of IoT technology will also create more E-Waste. So it’s not unreasonable to suspect those who promote IoT for sustainability as being completely misguided.
Wearables and e-waste through the lens of sustainability
According to a 2020 report from the United Nations University (UNU), 53.6 million tonnes (MT) e-waste generated in 2019 will increase by 38% by 2030. The noticeable fact is that most e-waste in 2019 consisted of small equipment. Another global survey by LexisNexis Risk Solutions in 2016 suggests 40% of millennials replace their wearable device every six months to a year, even if the device is still in working condition. As the wearable market is growing in an upward trajectory, the frequency of replacing an old device with a new one has increased.
While IoT can be utilized to attain various sustainability goals, the environmental impact of exponentially rising consumer IoT devices, primarily the low-cost wearables and the e-waste this will generate, remains unaddressed.
GlobalData forecasts indicate that by 2020 12.3% of the global population had adopted wearables, which will reach 65.63% by 2030. Within just one decade, the adoption of such devices will increase more than five times. Given this strong consumer demand, global shipments are expected to reach 1.63bn devices by 2030, from mere 0.36bn in 2020.
The exponential rise of wearables
With recurrent updates in features and designs from manufacturers, wearables are getting integrated into our daily lives. However, ensuring end-users’ long-term adoption of these devices is still an issue. A significant increase in e-waste is one of the main challenges from this growing adoption.
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In addition to IoT contributing to E-Waste, it has been heavily criticized for its creepy, unethical and sometimes illegal applications. So there’s that too.
In regard to the ecologically devastating wearables, they also emit harmful electromagnetic radiation which can increase cancer risk, disrupt the blood-brain barrier (see 1, 2, 3), and cause symptoms and illnesses including “Microwave Sickness” also known as “Electromagnetic Sensitivity” (see 1, 2).” Of course, radiation emissions from these devices may affect others within close-proximity to those wearing them too (see 1, 2, 3, 4) – including pets.
Activist Post reports regularly about unsafe technology. For more information visit our archives.
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