UK consumers green about environmental impact of Tech

Using phone

UK consumers are ‘green’ about the environmental damage caused by the constant ‘upgrading’ of tech products, according to new research.

In the study despite 59% being concerned about the environmental impact of frequently replacing smartphones and tablets with new models, seven out of 10 admitted they don’t fully understand the recycling process for old hardware devices once they have been discarded. The findings show that 38% regularly replace their smartphone with the latest product.

The ‘IT Trends Research’ was carried out by technology services business Lifeline IT to ascertain consumer attitudes towards information technology. It revealed that 77% now think wearable devices, such as Apple watches and branded headphones, have become more of a fashion accessory.

Said Lifeline IT founder and director Daniel Mitchell: “We’re all guilty of wanting the latest iPhone or tech accessory, but maybe next time you go for that upgrade, find out exactly what happens to your old model and make sure it’s recycled with minimum environmental impact.

“The constant mining of materials for new phone batteries is hugely detrimental to the environment. If we all stopped replacing our phones every time a new model comes out, it would have a direct positive impact.”

The study, carried out annually by Lifeline IT and is now in its 10th year, also looked at the issues of security and data protection. Despite the much-vaunted GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) rules of 2018, 73% of those questioned did not know or were unsure if companies and organisations are looking after their data in a way that is GDPR compliant.

And despite a vast increase in home working since the outbreak of COVID, 49% of those questioned aren’t confident they have the same IT security in place as they do in their office or place of work.

The growing area of IT subscription services, such as Cloud storage, iTunes, Dropbox and Adobe software, was also looked at in the research. Almost five out of 10 admitted they have more subscription services than they did a year ago, with 46% saying they would be less expensive if they were one-off payments, rather than monthly/quarterly charges.

Added Daniel: “Apathy seems to be the common issue that’s come out of this year’s research – it’s often easier to keep the status quo rather than change things.

“But it’s important to regularly review your tech services, especially now so many more of us are working from home. Always make sure you have the correct software in place when it comes to security and if you’re unsure if your data is being handled correctly, check with the company involved that they’re GDPR compliant. Now is also a good time to review your IT subscription services and assess which ones are business-critical and what’s the most cost-effective way of paying for them.”