European Union (EU) is looking for ways to take a harder stance against electronic waste. A draft plan reveals that the EU might enact a law forcing all smartphones, wireless earbuds, and tablets to use replaceable batteries.
Devices like phones and other personal electronics often cannot be recycled, creating a mounting environmental hazard.
And while it used to be easier to replace a cellphone battery in the era of flip phones, many smartphones now keep battery compartments sealed off. That means users often have to replace the entire device or navigate a complicated repair process when they can no longer hold a charge.
What’s more, some smartphone vendors don’t sell smartphone batteries to the general public as standalone parts. Instead, they only provide replacement batteries through specialized repair services. This is the case with many Apple iPhones and Samsung smartphones.
As such, many vendors can fairly be accused of producing excess e-waste, because users are required (or at least strongly incentivized) to buy replacement phones rather than replacement batteries.
As a result, the EU calculated that the average European generated nearly 37 pounds (16.6 kilograms) of e-waste in 2016.
Right now, the EU’s plans exist in the form of a draft proposal that will be submitted for public discussion next month.
If it passes, it would apply to all vendors selling within the EU, and hopefully rippled outward from there as an effect.
One major smartphone vendor, Apple, pushed back against this idea in January. The tech giant, whose iPhones sport a proprietary connector called the Lightning port, argued that “regulation that forces conformity across the type of connector stifles innovation.”
Reference- Business Insider, Dutch newspaper Het Financieele Dagblad, Futurism, European Union