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Apple and Google Tech War Equals A Deluge of E-Waste?

January 29th, 2010 · No Comments

With the introduction of the iPad last Wednesday, the Apple and Google tech war a deluge of e waste – a war that can result in an avalanche of e-waste.

The iPad
Last Wednesday, Apple CEO Steve Jobs unveiled the much anticipated tablet computer he calls the iPad. The 9.7-inch multitouch tablet is priced at $499 for the 16GB model that uses WIFI, while the high end 64 GB version, which connects with both Wi-Fi and 3G, comes with a price tag of $829.

The war between erstwhile allies Apple and Google is just heating up – I’m certain we will see each side come up with different products targeted at different computing niches in the coming months and years. The iPad, Apple’s new addition to its formidable arsenal of high-tech devices, straddles the space between a notebook (Macbookor netbook) and a smartphone (iPhone or Android).

There is, however, a possible effect to this rollout of new toys from these two giants, as Dave Connell at Cool Green Science points out.The effect – a virtual avalanche of e-waste – will be insidious and highly disruptive to e-waste management in the years ahead.

The products (iPhone and Android, tablets, and netbooks) are “inherently disposable” and are designed to become obsolete in a fixed time period. Add the relative low pricing and irreplaceable batteries to the equation and we can expect “15.8 million iPhones and millions more Android phones” being dumped into the nation’s waste stream in the coming years.

Watch: E-Waste video: “Students at Santa Clara University explore the environmental and ethical implications of electronic waste.”

As Mr.Connell observed, the two companies should take responsibility for the proper disposal of their products and “should implement robust, verifiable and free recycling programs for the devices they manufacture.”

Apple has an excellent recycling program in place, but Google is a different apple altogether (pun intended). It does not manufacture the products itself, but provides the crucial software to run these products (the Android software for dataphones and the Google Chrome operating system for netbooks). Arguably, Google has full responsibility – because without its software, manufacturers wouldn’t be making those new Android- or Chrome-powered devices, in the first place.

Ultimately, ordinary consumers, like you and me, are also responsible. It is our conspicuous consumption that drives the market and the constant scramble for new products. If we all pause for a second, and reduce our consumption or just refuse to buy every shiny new thing that hits the shelves, the speed at which these companies introduce disposable technology and the resulting e-waste, will be presumably slower. At the very least, we can all try to extend the life cycle of our devices or recycle these properly when the time comes.

What do you think? Are we facing a possible avalanche of e-waste from these two companies in the years to come? As always, your opinion is welcome, please leave your comments below.

Tags: Computer Recycling