Filmmaker Heather White, co-director of our Production Assistance Program film COMPLICIT, created a powerful short film called “Modern Slavery and Your Devices” that shows you the life-span of your phone and the other electronics that you use every day.
The journey begins at the cobalt mines in the Congo DRC that exploit child labor to get the necessary metals to build the electronic components. Next they travel to China and South Korea where millions of factory workers are exposed to poisonous chemicals while assembling Android and iPhones.
From there they land in the hands of consumers worldwide – 1.2 billion smartphones were sold last year. At the end of your phone’s life cycle, after you have discarded it, or thought you had properly recycled your smartphone – it most likely ends back where it started – in Africa (Nigeria and Ghana). Illegal electronic waste is also a huge problem in India and Pakistan.
50 million TONS of e-waste are discarded annually, creating harmful, life-threatening hazards in communities. Our 24/7 demand for smartphones affects the lives of millions of people across the world.
The most important thing we can do as consumers is to demand Apple and Samsung to handle product take back for recycling once these smartphones are discarded. This would require them to safely and legally manage the life cycle of their products. You can also make a difference by sharing this video. You will help bring awareness to the dirty secrets the electronics industry hopes you’ll ignore.