What a waste!

Down to Earth - - LETTERS -

This is re­gard­ing "Shock­ing waste" (16-30 June, 2018). The prob­lem of e-waste arises from the rapid de­vel­op­ment in com­puter and elec­tronic hard­ware. The turn­around time of prod­ucts is short and new items are be­ing placed in the mar­ket at break­neck speed. A prod­uct gets ob­so­lete within two years of its launch. In­dus­trial poli­cies are also partly re­spon­si­ble for this rapid ob­so­les­cence of elec­tronic items that has re­sulted in the ac­cu­mu­la­tion of un­ser­vice­able parts, sub-as­sem­blies and prod­ucts. These are all in fine shape, but ren­dered use­less due to lack of in­ter­change­abil­ity among sim­i­lar prod­ucts of the same brand.

The most ubiq­ui­tous prod­uct to­day is the mo­bile phone, which is avail­able in umpteen screen sizes and shapes to suit dif­fer­ent user re­quire­ments and tastes. The sin­gle most of­ten re­placed part is the lithium-ion bat­tery. The se­condary cell has a very large stor­age ca­pac­ity to hold electric charge for its size and weight. The bat­tery tech­nol­ogy used across all mo­bile phones is more or less the same. The mo­bile phone man­u­fac­tur­ers get bat­ter­ies made to or­der to suit the space avail­able in a par­tic­u­lar phone model. Here starts the prob­lem. The bat­tery life is lim­ited to about two or three years, whether used or not. Thus, the pur­chaser would feel the need for new bat­tery af­ter two years of the launch when the hand­set is out of the mar­ket. The old bat­tery stock would just last a few months, and the user has to throw away a work­ing phone for want of a bat­tery. We cre­ate garbage by de­sign­ing ob­so­les­cence in the prod­uct.

Stan­dard­i­s­a­tion of mo­bile phone bat­tery is need of the hour. Many read­ers would re­call hunt­ing for mo­bile charg­ers just 10 years ago. Ev­ery phone used a dif­fer­ent pin for the charger. The com­mon charg­ing port was en­forced by the Euro­pean Union and now we see very few vari­a­tions in charger ca­bles. Sim­i­larly, con­sen­sus could be reached for bat­tery sizes that would re­duce in­ven­tory be­sides gen­er­a­tion of e-waste. An­other item con­tribut­ing to e-waste is the inkjet printer. Any mis­match in its three units would ren­der it use­less. R N MISRA VASTRAPUR, GUJARAT

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