Speaking at the CleanUp 2013 conference in Melbourne, Australia, Professor Ming Wong, director of the Croucher Institute for Environmental Sciences at Hong Kong Baptist University, described the growing problem of e-waste as a "timebomb."
"[It] is the world's fastest growing waste stream, rising by 3 to 5% every year," said Wong.
The Phonebloks concept aims to decrease e-waste by offering consumers the opportunity to replace individual components of their phone, while retaining the device's basic frame.
In theory, Hakkens believes that choosing separate components could enable users to personalize their cell phone to their own specifications, adding an improved camera, increased storage or a larger battery.
"The idea is to set up a platform which, if used correctly, can reduce the amount of waste significantly," Hakkens says.
At present, Phonebloks is still a long way from reaching the market -- indeed its inventor hasn't even asked for any money to begin developing it. For now, Hakkers has simply been gathering support for the concept through the "crowd-speaking" platform Thunderclap.
At the time of writing, the Phonebloks concept video has received more than 12 million views on YouTube and been shared on social networks more than 650,000 times. The project has also received support from the actor Elijah Wood and television correspondent Jessica Northey.
The Phonebloks concept is not without its critics. Some argue that making a device that can more easily be upgraded will increase e-waste rather than reducing it. Others suggest that it would be impossible to build a functional smartphone in a modular way.
Hakkens says that at the very least his campaign has shown that there is an appetite for an environmentally friendly cell phone and that even though the concept was only officially launched a week ago "we are already having conversations with some serious players."
Tom Dowdall, a Climate and Energy spokesperson for Greenpeace, says that the interest in Phonebloks may be useful in underlining the growing prooblem of e-waste: "Hopefully the popularity of the Phonebloks concept will spark more action from the major manufacturers. It should not be beyond the innovative phone companies to make products that are upgradable and designed to last."
Would you ditch your iPhone or current smartphone if the Phonebloks concept becomes reality, ONTD? NGL, I would.
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