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Product Recycling: I Phones And Dell Laptops

1679 words - 7 pages

Product Recycling – IPhone and Dell Laptop
The rate and advancement of technology production is remarkable. Almost as soon as you purchase a new phone, laptop, MP3 player, it becomes out of date within a year. We have become part of an endless consumer chain, constantly being prodded to buy the next “best” item even though we already have a functioning product. In fact, from 1999 to 2005, Americans threw away more than 157 million computer products (EPA, 2012). What are the environmental externalities of such behavior? Many do not stop to think where these products came from, who was affected in their making, and what happens to these products once we decide to replace them for the latest model. I have noticed that two of the most common products used by students on campus are iPhones and laptops; commodities which are almost required in a college setting, enabling students to check email, write papers, and make phone calls. Consequently, I would like to examine the ecological implications of iPhones and Dell laptops (a laptop brand I personally own) and recycling programs for these products.
As far as technology products go, Apple makes a point of trying to eliminate most harmful chemicals. Apple states on its website that it has eliminated the use of mercury, lead, arsenic, polyvinyl chloride (PVC), brominated flame retardants, and phthalates from its processes and supply chain. Although, Apple does provide a disclaimer that PVC and Phthalates are still used in the manufacture of products in India and South Korea (Apple, 2014). PVC and Phthalates lead to nerve damage, immune reactions and liver cancer, and reproductive system damage respectively. Yet, despite Apple’s claims of environmental responsibility, the company is still under fire from labor groups. In March of this year, the labor organization, China Labor Watch, published a report calling for Apple to abandon its use of benzene and n-hexane among other accusations of labor violations (CBS, 2014). Benzene is a carcinogen which can cause Leukemia, and n-hexane can cause nerve damage, eventually leading to muscular weakness and atrophy, or even paralysis. In fact, two female factory workers were hospitalized for six months in October of 2010 after using n-hexane to glue and polish Apple logos on laptops and iPhones (Rees, 2014). Greenpeace also reported that Apple still uses the toxic chemical antimony in headphone sockets, headphone cables, and in chips. Antimony is a chemical associated with cancer, as well as lung, heart, liver, and kidney damage (Greenpeace, 2012). Additionally, a 2007 study by Greenpeace Research Laboratories found that Apple products contain high levels of chlorine in the plastic coating of the headphone cables, along with phthalates plasticizers which indicates use of PVC, even though Apple claims the chemical was phased out in 1995. Apple has also not eliminated bromine from its manufacturing process outside of flame retardants, or beryllium; chemicals which...

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