Are Devices Built to Last or to Die?

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In August 2022, The Washington Post released an analysis of 14 popular consumer devices, finding that most could stop working in 3-4 years because of irreplaceable batteries and half of them are designed to be thrown away.

Having to upgrade your devices regularly can be a costly investment and poses negative impacts on our environment’s global electronic waste issue. “Almost every device these days has a battery that is going to wear out, and it’s a built-in death clock.” (Kyle Wien, CEO of repair community, iFixit).

Although devices do not consume as much energy as aircrafts, vehicles, etc., the negative environmental impacts they cause comes from manufacturing and improper disposal. According to Apple, “Of all the carbon emissions its products add to the earth over their life span, 70 percent comes from manufacturing. That means every time you buy a new gadget like a laptop, you’re adding hundreds of more pounds of carbon into the sky before you switch it on.”

The Washington Post Analysis Questions:
  • How many recharges can the device’s battery take until its capacity drops to 80 percent?
  • What can a consumer do to replace their battery?
  • Only three companies – Nintendo, VanMoof and Apple, disclosed their battery details on their website.

Are Tech Giants Using ‘Planned Obsolescence’?

In the grand scheme of things, are tech giants trying to produce devices with a shorter life span? Geoffrey A. Fowler from The Washington Post, calls for an end to planned obsolescence by adding repairability scores to packaging, labelling the battery recharge count and how much it costs to replace the battery.

“The best thing we can do for us and the environment is for us to hold onto devices longer.” (Fowler, The Washington Post, 2022). “But if you can’t simply replace the battery in something you own, does it really even belong to you?”

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To learn more about this topic, check out The Washington Post article.

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