In Ghana, the global problem of e-waste has local consequences

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Loads of mobile phones end up in Ghana, where they may or may not be recycled properly.
Loads of mobile phones end up in Ghana, where they may or may not be recycled properly.
Photo: Agbogbloshie Makerspace Platform/Flickr CC

Consumers have a nasty habit of throwing out their electronics as soon as newer, shinier models become available, and they rarely ever do so properly. Nearly 42 million tons of e-waste — everything from microwaves and electric shavers to washing machines, laptops, cellphones, TVs and computer monitors — entered the global garbage stream in 2014, according to a United Nations University report.

Like all trash, this stuff doesn’t just disappear. Instead, it stacks up in landfills. Unlike most trash, however, e-waste is often packed with valuable components — as well as toxic chemicals and materials that can cause real damage wherever they end up.

Meet the radical who wants the iPad banned!

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iFixit CEO Kyle Wiens is the Bernie Sanders of the electronics industry. He doesn't want reform -- he wants wholesale revolution!
iFixit CEO Kyle Wiens is the Bernie Sanders of the electronics industry. He doesn't want reform -- he wants wholesale revolution!
Photo: iFixit

Kyle Wiens thinks the iPad should be banned. It’s a “highly immoral” product, he says, because it can’t be opened and repaired when the battery dies. It’s a throwaway device, and he wants governments to prohibit it.

“It’s not designed to be long-lasting,” said Wiens, who is the co-founder and CEO of iFixit. “It’s like selling a car that has to be replaced when the tires wear out.”

Wiens is the Bernie Sanders of the electronics industry. He doesn’t just want reform — he wants revolution!

Here’s why.

Ready to trade in your old phone? Meet the folks behind our gadget buyback (highest prices, btw)

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The guys behind MyPhones Unlimited, an Arkansas-based buyback program that we believe pays more than the competition (in nine out of ten cases).
The guys behind MyPhones Unlimited, an Arkansas-based buyback program that we believe pays more than the competition (in nine out of ten cases).
Photo: MyPhones Unlimited

We recently launched a gadget buyback program that promises to pay more for used and broken Apple devices than Gazelle, Walmart and even Apple itself. This post is about the startup company we partnered with to bring you this service.

A college friend who bought a new phone and was about to trash a defunct iPhone 3G sparked the idea for MyPhones Unlimited, a smartphone recycling service that Cult of Mac recently partnered with.

“Two main thoughts came to mind,” says MyPhones Unlimited founder Gabe Trumbo. “One is that that can’t be good for that to just be thrown away, there has got to be a better way to recycle it. And beyond that, I’m sure there’s still some value in it.”

He was right. Trading in his friend’s phone himself, Trumbo got a bigger chunk of change than he expected — and immediately saw a market coupled to an important problem.

iFixit can now help you repair more broken gadgets than ever

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iFixit's Kyle Wiens.
iFixit's Kyle Wiens.
Photo: iFixit

iFixit has made repairing broken iPhones as simple as setting up Ikea furniture thanks to the site’s easy-to-follow guides and excellent repair tools Apple doesn’t really want you to use. Now the company is about make it easier to fix even more broken gadgets by partnering with Electronic Recyclers International.

Finding parts to fix broken Kindles, GoPros, and Nexus devices can be practically impossible, but now that iFixit and ERI are teaming up, consumers will have a way to keep more of their busted gizmos alive, instead of tossing them in the wood chipper.