Smartphones and Sustainability

I’d seen a fairly old YouTube video (from 2010 …… yes ancient news!) highlighting the issues with the raw materials needed to make smartphones, namely Coltan.

And….., so what…… where are you going with this?, you may ask……….

Well, while doing research for our class presentation video I came across another YouTube video, this one made in Dec 2013 on the EXACT same issue.

We have been going on about the oil companies and the ‘bursting’ of the oil/carbon bubble and how these companies are operating without any regard for sustainable development/practices. The example of PeaBody highlighted just how much as a society we are reliant on fossil energy (unnecessarily?) and just how much we let these companies get away with for as long as they meet our consumption demands. The argument is, without a viable alternative (seemingly) they will milk every last cent and make as many billions as they can while they can. Marc also raised the point that they also aren’t that stupid not to invest in future sustainable renewable energies i.e. the baddies of today will ultimately be the goodies of tomorrow. So does this justify their blatant disregard for what happens until the fossil fuels run out?

Now what of the iPhone. For almost four years since the first video, Apple has continued to operate as normal knowing that they are potentially producing an unsustainable, unethical product. But have we as consumers changed our buying habits…….. No. We in fact demand our smartphones and argue that in this day and age it is a necessity (including tablets, portable electronics devices etc.). The same argument from above unfortunately applies to this case whereby a company is blatantly milking the market and exploiting workers and the environment, for until their forced to find another solution or there is enough public fall out (awareness). Perhaps they already have the solution but even up until June 2014 Apple was forced by the Dodd-Frank Act which disclosed that they could only certify 80% of the smelters it does business with in Congo were not sourcing conflict minerals.

The end quote from the clip : “About half the price of an iPhone is pure profit for Apple. Such high profit should not be achieved at the expense of workers or the environment.”

Again, Apple will be the saviours of tomorrow………

Who is letting these resource sapping, money hunger companies get away with what they are doing? Hands up if you have a smartphone or portable electronic device.

#SDCA14 #Sustainable Development

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Posted in corporate sustainability, sustainable development, sustainable technologies
2 comments on “Smartphones and Sustainability
  1. jeremy says:

    Really interesting piece Paul!

  2. taylor0925 says:

    Yes, the high price and profits of Apple product result from sweatshop in China to some extent.

    In terms of the factory of Apple in China, employees usually work overtime in poor working conditions. For example, the past three years, some employees from Foxconn (the big supplier of Apple in China) choose suicidal jump according to official news.

    Apple use very low labor cost in China, and then sell high price to Chinese people. Therefore, motivating multinational company to implement sustainability still need a long road and may need enforcement of government and pressure from social media.

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