Methods: Safer Tech

These are some of the multiple NGO's are working to get technology corporations - from Apple to Samsung - to make safer tech. There are alternatives to the present day destructive methods of manufacturing, production and recycling in the technology sector.

Have a Samsung cell phone? South Korean occupational health advocacy group, SHARPS, has documented over 300 cases of cancer and other serious illnesses in electronics industry workers, many of them suffered by workers at Samsung factories. At least 118 Samsung factory workers in South Korea have died due to occupational illnesses since 2007. This short report "Your cool new Samsung smartphone brought to you by noise, pain and miscarriages" from March, 2018 reveals how Samsung labor practices damage the neurological and reproductive health of it's workforce - and in Vietnam, how Samsung has launched a massive disinformation and legal retaliation campaign to halt attempts to address these abuses. Ted Smith (of the International Campaign for Responsible Technology) shares the May 2018 International Day of Action against Samsung in Asia, Europe and the United States protesting health, labor and human rights violations.

Sign the petition demanding accountability from Samsung.

The Asia Monitor Resource Center reports that  "dangerous working conditions are common in Asia, and they kill, maim, and sicken thousands of workers every day, but the true extent of this problem is grossly underestimated." The most recent increases in gross domestic product (GDP) growth rates have led to Asia having the largest population of working poor in the world. AMRC supports independent and democratic labour movements in Asia that fight for labour rights and gender equality.

Working with The International Campaign for Responsible Technology (ICRT) and the Good Electronics Network, they are challenging the electronics industry to adopt safer and more sustainable products and practices.

GREENPEACE Rethink-IT campaign reports "We need a fundamental shift in how our devices are made – a rapid move away from the disposable design that is becoming more prevalent in today’s electronics -

  • As much of 80% of the carbon pollution associated with electronics happens before you even turn them on.
  • For the 100g of minerals in each smartphone, miners must dig, chip and process more than 340 times as much rock.
  • In 2017, global e-waste volumes were projected to hit 65 million metric tonnes"

Check Greenpeace's Guide to Greener Electronics to be informed on what going into the products you are buying and using, what you can do about it, and alternatives to the worst polluters (pdf here).

The Center for Environmental Health reports that electronics account for "approximately 70% of the heavy metals found in solid waste landfills and contain hazardous materials such as polyvinyl chloride (PVC or vinyl), brominated flame retardants, lead, and mercury, released during the production, use and disposal of electronic products" CEH has been successful in changing policy at the governmental and institutional level, for instance, when they "partnered with major health care giants like Kaiser Permanente to create the most stringent environmental standards for computer purchasing, recycling and disposal, broadening the market for computers made with safer materials."

They have created a guide on "How to Buy Better Computers" (pdf here).

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