Right to repair
In an age where mobile technology is evolving faster than ever, a throwaway consumer culture has developed in the UK – to the point where Britain is now the second worst offender for e-waste in the world.
As new handsets and accessories are released, old and damaged devices are either put in drawers and left to gather dust or thrown away – ending up in landfill and polluting the environment. It is estimated that a staggering 40 million smartphones are now lying around unused in homes across the UK.
Even environmentally-conscious consumers are not helped by the design of many mobile handsets and accessories, which make it very difficult to repair devices easily. Certain manufacturers are pre-programming their products to only operate with official parts installed by them, resulting in those who are not authorised to repair devices being pushed out of the marketplace.
Equally, as products become more advanced, the cost of replacing them is increasing for the consumer. OLED displays, for example, are extremely expensive; the iPhone 11 screens are more than £300 to repair and the new Samsung Fold screen costs more than £500 just for the part.
These issues combine to worsen the e-waste issue. So much so that by 2050 global e-waste is expected to double to more than 111 million tonnes a year. But things are beginning to change.
With climate change now at the forefront of the political and social agenda, the ‘Right to Repair’ movement is gaining traction. The movement advocates for the right of individuals to repair their own devices instead of being required to purchase a new one.
The EU recently adopted new measures to force manufacturers to make household appliances more sustainable and improve the life span of those products by 2021. If mobile manufacturers take the same approach, consumers can consider keeping their handsets and accessories for longer – meaning fewer electronics and precious materials are wasted.
At GSUK we recover, reuse and recycle broken or unwanted gadgets, primarily focusing on reuse as the most effective way of recycling. Our passion lies in saving planet Earth, one device at a time. By developing reuse solutions for accessories and devices, we are helping shine a spotlight on not only the Right to Repair but the Right to Reuse.
If the UK’s mobile sector is going to move to a sustainable, circular economy this shift is one that needs to happen – saving consumers money and protecting our environment.