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回顧星期天LBS - 手機相關時事趣聞 All about 2021 cellphones

· 每日跟讀單元 Daily English

Topic: 5.3 billion cellphones to become waste in 2022

More than 5 billion of the estimated 16 billion mobile phones possessed worldwide will likely be discarded or stashed away in 2022, experts said Thursday last week, calling for more recycling of the often hazardous materials they contain.


Stacked flat on top of each other, that many disused phones would rise 50,000 kilometers, more than 100 times higher than the International Space Station, the waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) research consortium found.


Despite containing valuable gold, copper, silver, palladium and other recyclable components, almost all these unwanted devices will be hoarded, dumped or incinerated, causing significant health and environmental harm.


“Smartphones are one of the electronic products of highest concern for us,” said Pascal Leroy, director-general of the WEEE Forum, a not-for-profit association representing 46 producer responsibility organizations.

「智慧手機是最令我們擔心的電子產品之一」,代表四十六個生產者責任組織的非營利協會 WEEE 論壇總幹事巴斯卡‧李若伊說。

“If we don’t recycle the rare materials they contain, we’ll have to mine them in countries like China or Congo,” Leroy told AFP.


Defunct cellphones are just the tip of the 44.48 million tonne iceberg of global electronic waste generated annually that is not recycled, according to the 2020 global e-waste monitor.


Many of the 5 billion phones withdrawn from circulation will be hoarded rather than dumped in the trash, according to a survey in six European countries from June to September 2022.


This happens when households and businesses forget cellphones in drawers, closets, cupboards or garages rather than bringing them in for repair or recycling.


Up to five kilos of e-devices per person are currently hoarded in the average European family, the report found.


According to the new findings, 46 percent of the 8,775 households surveyed considered potential future use as the main reason for hoarding small electrical and electronic equipment.


Another 15 percent stockpile their gadgets with the intention of selling them or giving them away, while 13 percent keep them due to “sentimental value”.


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Topic: The ‘Right to Repair’ Movement Gains Ground

If you buy a product — a car, a smartphone, or even a tractor — and it breaks, should it be easier for you to fix it yourself?


Manufacturers of a wide range of products have made it increasingly difficult over the years to repair things, for instance by limiting availability of parts or by putting prohibitions on who gets to tinker with them. It affects not only game consoles or farm equipment, but cellphones, military gear, refrigerators, automobiles and even hospital ventilators, the lifesaving devices that have proved crucial this year in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic.


Now, a movement known as “right to repair” is starting to make progress in pushing for laws that prohibit restrictions like these.


In August, Democrats introduced a bill in Congress to block manufacturers’ limits on medical devices, spurred by the pandemic. In Europe, the European Commission announced plans in March for new right-to-repair rules that would cover phones, tablets and laptops by 2021.


And in more than 20 statehouses nationwide, right-to-repair legislation has been introduced in recent years by both Republicans and Democrats.


Over the summer, the House advanced a funding bill that includes a requirement that the Federal Trade Commission complete a report on anti-competitive practices in the repair market and present its findings to Congress and the public.


The goal of right-to-repair rules, advocates say, is to require companies to make their parts, tools and information available to consumers and repair shops in order to keep devices from ending up in the scrap heap. They argue that the rules restrict people’s use of devices that they own and encourage a throwaway culture by making repairs too difficult.


They also argue that it’s part of a culture of planned obsolescence — the idea that products are designed to be short-lived in order to encourage people to buy more stuff. That contributes to wasted natural resources and energy use at a time when climate change requires movement in the opposite direction to rein in planet-warming emissions.


Manufacturing a new device or appliance is still largely reliant on polluting sources of energy — electricity generated from burning fossil fuels, for instance — and constitutes the largest environmental impact for most products.


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Topic: Help for Curing The Phone Addiction

Like pretty much everyone, Susan Butler stares at her smartphone too much. But unlike most everyone, she took action, buying a $195 ring from a company called Ringly, which promises to “let you put your phone away and your mind at ease.”


Ringly does this by connecting its rings to a smartphone filter so that users can silence Gmail or Facebook notifications while preserving crucial alerts, which cause the ring to light up or vibrate.


“Hopefully it will keep some distance between my phone and my hand,” said Ms. Butler, 27, a technology consultant who lives in Austin, Texas.


Given how quickly cellphones have taken over, it’s easy to forget that they are still a relatively new technology. The first iPhone came out eight years ago.


Yet already people spend close to three hours a day looking at a mobile screen – and that excludes the time they spend actually talking on the phones.


In a recent survey of smartphone use by Bank of America, about a third of respondents said they were “constantly” checking their smartphones, and a little more than two-thirds said that they went to bed with a smartphone by their side. New companies see a business opportunity in helping people cut back.


“Technology has evolved so quickly that we have spiraled out of control and nobody has stopped to think about how this is going to impact our lives,” said Kate Unsworth, the founder of a British company, Kovert, that also makes high-tech jewelry to filter out everything but the most urgent stuff.


Smartwatches like the Apple Watch are designed to encourage more glancing and less phone checking. In June, Google and Levi’s announced plans for a line of high-tech clothes that will allow people to do things like turn off a ringing phone by swiping their jacket cuff.

Apple Watch之類智慧手表設計宗旨在於讓人多簡單過目,少滑手機。谷歌和Levi’s六月宣布一項高科技服飾系列的合作計畫,讓人們能做拍打外套袖口就關掉手機響鈴之類的事。

Offtime limits customers’ access to apps they overuse and produce charts on how much time they spend on their phones. Moment encourages people to share their phone use with friends to compete in a game of who can look at their phone the least. And Light Phone, a credit-card-size phone that does nothing but make and receive phone calls.

Offtime程式限制顧客開啟過度使用的應用程式,並製作圖表顯示他們花在手機上的時間。Moment鼓勵人們和朋友分享自己使用手機的狀況並互相比賽,看看誰能最少看手機。還有信用卡大小的手機Light Phone,只能撥打及接聽電話。

NoPhone is a $12 piece of plastic that looks like a smartphone but actually does nothing. “Most people don’t think about phone addiction as a real thing until you’re like, ‘O.K., they’re buying a piece of plastic because they are worried about their friend,’ ” said Van Gould, head of the nascent venture that had sold close to 3,200 NoPhones.


Adam Gazzaley, a neurologist and neuroscience professor at the University of California, San Francisco, said, “You have a population that is starting to say, ‘Wait, we love all this technology but there seems to be a cost – whether it’s my relationship or my work or my safety because I’m driving and texting.’ ”


Some products are trying to find a balance. Google Now uses data to bother you only when you need it. “If I’m about to forget my kid’s birthday I want the phone to scream at me until I do something about it,” said Sundar Pichai, Google’s senior vice president of products.

有些產品試著尋求平衡。Google Now只在你需要時用數據打擾你。Google產品資深副總裁桑達.皮柴說:「在我將要忘記孩子的生日時,我要手機對我尖叫,直到我讓它停止。」

Smartphones are a potent delivery mechanism for two fundamental human impulses, according to Paul Atchley, a psychology professor at the University of Kansas: our quest to find new and interesting distractions, and our desire to feel that we have checked off a task.


“The brain gets literally rewired to switch – to constantly seek out novelty, which makes putting the phone down difficult,” he said.


Addiction or not, Ms. Butler still sought help from Ringly.


Mr. Atchley is skeptical. Successful treatment, he said, is about controlling our demons – not outsourcing them.


In technology, as in life, a little willpower goes a long way.


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