Wed, Jun 28, 2017 - Page 3 News List

Devices are designed to be replaced: Greenpeace

By Lin Chia-nan  /  Staff reporter

Electronic devices are deliberately designed to be difficult to maintain and repair to encourage consumers to buy new devices, Greenpeace Taiwan said yesterday.

Greenpeace International, with US-based iFixit, evaluated 45 smartphones from 17 brands that were launched between 2015 and this year, and found that electronic devices are made difficult to repair and maintain, the foundation’s Taiwan office senior media director Lee Fang-yi (李芳怡) said.

Nearly 70 percent of the reviewed devices had batteries that were impossible or difficult to replace, the survey showed.

Samsung Electronics smartphones, as well as Apple Inc and Microsoft Corp tablets and notebooks are the most difficult to repair and maintain, she said, adding that the products’ shortened lifespan results in increased electronic waste.

Producing electronic devices that are easier to maintain is feasible, as demonstrated by Fairphone Co, Hewlett-Packard Co (HP) and Dell Inc, she added.

The foundation also surveyed 3,399 users about repairing smartphones, which was conducted from May 12 to May 31.

About 78 percent of the respondents said they had ever repaired their phones, with screen panels being the most commonly replaced part, the survey showed.

Nearly 49 percent of respondents said they sent their phones back to the original manufacturer for repairs, and about 42 percent sent their phones to other maintenance stores, while only 3.32 percent said they repaired the phones themselves, the survey showed.

About 4.87 million smartphones were recycled last year, 1 million more than in 2015, a Department of Waste Management officer said.

Recycling phones is not effective in Taiwan, Greenpeace Taiwan global information and Technology specialist Lee Chih-an (李之安) said.

Many people are not in the habit of recycling used phones, while electronics brands do not push product recycling, Lee Chih-an said.

More than 60 materials are used to manufacture a smartphone, but recycling techniques in Taiwan can only reclaim or reuse about eight of those materials, she added.

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