The European Union is thinking about a plan that would require the manufacturers of smartphones, tablets, and other wireless devices to use replaceable batteries in the equipment. Officials planned to discuss the idea at their March 2020 meeting before the coronavirus health emergency changed everyone’s plans.
The goal of this idea is to reduce the amount of electronic waste that the mobile device industry generates each year. When a battery no longer provides viable power to a smartphone or tablet, then consumers can work with their vendor for a replacement – or they can choose to buy a new product.
Either way, e-waste gets created by this act of consumerism. Forcing manufacturers to use easily replaceable batteries won’t eliminate the issue, but it would likely change customer habits so that they continue to use older electronics.
What Are the Benefits of Using Older Electronic Devices?
When Edward Snowden leaked secrets from U.S. intelligence in 2014, the response from Russia from that event was to order 20 typewriters. The goal of that effort was to avoid leaks that could lead to electronic surveillance.
George R.R. Martin, who is the literary mind behind the Game of Thrones books and TV series, says that he uses an obsolete operating system on the computer he uses to write. That means his device isn’t connected to the Internet, which means Martin doesn’t need to worry about theft, viruses, or other issues.
That doesn’t mean these “old school” actions prevent all risks. A message written on a typewriter could get lost in transit. If Martin experiences hard-drive failure while writing, then he could lose a significant amount of work.
The benefits of using older electronics may still outweigh the negatives for many people. Think about what you could do with an iPhone 6 compared to buying the latest model each year. You’d save thousands of dollars because there isn’t a need to upgrade. The device can manage many of the same features that you want so that your productivity levels remain consistent.
It also reduces the amount of waste that you generate each year.
Why Aren’t We Reusing Older Devices?
If you purchased an iPad 2 years ago and still use it, then you know its functionality is becoming limited. Apple doesn’t provide operating system support for it anymore. That means most of the apps that once worked are no longer functional when you try to use the device.
You can still stream Netflix or play older games, but you’re forced to upgrade to a more modern device if you want more convenience.
That’s why the idea of forcing vendors to use replaceable batteries is only one step toward e-waste reduction. Until companies like Microsoft, Apple, and Samsung must provide ongoing tech support for their older devices, the electronics will still age out to force consumers to buy something new.
You might type a secure message that electronic surveillance can’t pick up with a typewriter. It also prevents you from communicating efficiently. That’s why we must balance all of the advantages and disadvantages of modern tech to come out with a convenient and secure solution.