When your iPhone’s battery dies or screen cracks, it can be tempting to throw it out and upgrade to a new phone, rather than repair it. It’s just not easy for consumers to do simple repairs, and that contributes to a huge eco-waste problem around the world.
Looking at 44 different smartphones, tablets, and laptops, they examined how easy it is to repair each device and gave them scores across several factors, including the difficulty level of taking it apart, and whether the company releases information on how to replace things like batteries and displays. The scores range from 0 to 10, with higher numbers indicating that it’s easier to repair the device.
Apple’s iPad Pro 9.7″ and iPad 5 both scored a 2, while the MacBook Pro 13″ and Retina MacBook received a 1. Apple products do not come with repair guides, and the company does not sell spare parts to third party repair shops, the report said. iPad screens are also heavily glued to the rest of the device, greatly increasing the chances of damaging the glass during a repair. In Macbooks, the processors, RAMs, and flash memories are soldered to the motherboards, making these parts difficult to access for repair or replacing.
Gary Cook, Senior IT Sector Analyst at Greenpeace USA, told Business Insider that these design decisions have huge implications for the environment.
“Today [June 29] is the 10th anniversary of the iPhone. These things all fit in our hands and seem like they don’t have a very big impact, because they’re so small,” said Cook. “But the impact is quite significant, both in terms of the chemicals used, the amount of energy that goes into manufacturing these products, the e-waste at the end-of-life … And the repair-ability of the device ends up being critical.”
In contrast to iPads and Mac Books, the iPhone 7 received a 7 out of 10. In recent years, Apple has designed its phones to be easier to open, Cook said.
Apple spokesperson Alisha Johnson told Business Insider that Apple is addressing the eco-waste problem. Customers can visit Apple stores for repairs, and the company launched a recycling program, called Apple Renew in 2016, she said.
“Highly-integrated design allows us to make products that are not only beautiful, thin and powerful, but also durable, so they can last for many years. When repairs are needed, authorised providers can ensure the quality, safety, and security of repairs for customers. And when products do reach end of life, Apple takes responsibility for recycling them safely and responsibly,” Johnson said.
“We’re also pioneering a closed loop supply chain where products are made using only renewable resources or recycled material to reduce the need to mine materials from the earth.”
Other tech products much higher than Apple devices. The Fairphone 2, known for its modular design, got a perfect score. Compared to the other phones, it has the most user-friendly battery, camera, screen, and microphone for replace-ability, since you don’t need any tools to open it. The HP Elite x2 1012 G1 tablet and Dell Latitude E5270 laptop also scored a 10.
In 2014, over 40 million metric tons worth of smartphones, tablets, and computers ended up in toxic landfills. United Nations researchers expect the volume of e-waste to increase 21% to 50 million metric tons in 2018.