The environmental and social impacts of electronic devices, the possible ways to reduce these effects - conference
On November 6, 2018, the Office of the Commissioner for Fundamental Rights, the National Council for Sustainable Development, the Hungarian branch of Friends of the Earth, as well as the On the Way to Sustainability Association held a conference entitled “The environmental and social impacts of electronic devices, the possible ways to reduce these effects” at the Ombudsman’s Office. The speakers showed that the manufacturing, trading and use of mobile phones, computers, entertainment electronical and similar devices, their frequent replacement - which happens much more often than it would be technically justified, due to intentionally poor quality, cumbersome repairability, as well as the impact of advertisements -, furthermore, the low rate of recycling the devices that became unnecessary, along with the ensuing problems of waste management all over the world but primarily in the Third World, cause severe pollution of the environment, destruction of nature, as well as social and health problems. The mining of precious metals and rare earth elements, which are used in increasing mass amounts, destroys precious habitats, decimates endangered animal species, furthermore, causes serious health damages due to the low level or even non-existent labor protection culture of developing countries, including child labor in very dangerous circumstances. Most of the waste which contains hazardous substances also reaches the Third World in uncontrolled conditions, generating grave environmental impacts and health risks. These adverse effects may be significantly reduced by the moderate use of higher quality and more durable products, by reusing valuable raw materials in manufacturing, however, in order to achieve this, each part of the life cycle of the devices should be reconsidered, from planning to waste management, in the spirit of environmental sustainability. The speakers of the conference pointed out that in order to reach this goal, the system of economic incentives should be reconsidered and re-regulated, which may be realized through choices made by conscious buyers and citizens, as well as their lobbying for these goals.