I read something interesting yesterday that got me thinking about technology and its effect on the environment, again. I saw a post over at Gizmodo about bio-degradable flash drives and how they are a positive step toward reducing e-waste. And while this is certainly a step in the right direction, isn’t it a bit misleading?
I’m talking about language, here. Many people hear the word “bio-degradable” and think that means it refers to objects that will decompose and go back into the earth over time. And while this partially true, it leaves out one important factor: the objects must be heated to very high temperatures in order to break down the materials. And though the materials will break down, it begs the question, is it worth it?
The bio-degradable plastic that’s used in these flash drives is corn-based, sure. But burning it to make it bio-degrade will still cause pollution. Plus, many people still don’t take advantage of the e-waste pick-ups and drop-off centers. With waste like this going into the landfills, it won’t bio-degrade and will, instead, sit in the landfill with all the rest of the trash!
While I think bio-degradable technology is a good idea, it’s not the be all or end all solution. An individual responsibility is still required and if consumers don’t hold up their end of the bargain (depositing e-waste at e-waste facilities, only) it won’t matter if the product is bio-degradable or not.
The problem isn’t with the tech, it’s with the individual’s means of disposing the tech.
What do you think a long-term solution to such e-waste problems would be? And if you think I’m being too hard on the idea of bio-degradable devices, let me know that, too.