As we all know, new tech is taking over our society, hoping to make life more efficient for all of us — like offering money sharing apps to avoid using cash or credit cards. Apple has Daisy, a disassembly robot that can cover valuable materials from up to 200 iPhones per hour. A non-profit called Charity:Water uses VR films to bring potential donors along for the ride as a young African girl hauls heavy water cans for hours in the blazing sun. One non-profit technology firm, The Ocean Cleanup, is tackling the planet’s largest mass of ocean plastic this summer.
As new tech continues to make our lives easier, it’s also helping to better the planet to become more sustainable. Cleaner oceans, reduced mining and widespread access to drinking water are all crucial when it comes to lessening our global footprint and improving global health.
Here are how some companies and organizations are using new tech to promote sustainability and save the world.
Apple’s New Tech
Did you know that 35 million tons of electronic waste makes its way into landfills each year? If Americans recycled even just 130 million of these cellphones each year, we could produce enough energy in a year to power more than 24,000 homes.
For the first time ever, smartphone sales experienced a decline during the final quarter of 2017. However, even with that decline, market researcher Gartner reports that more than 1.5 billion smartphones were sold in 2017. Of this number, 215 million were iOS devices.
But what happens to the old phones of consumers that upgrade to the iPhone X or replace their shattered device? Meet Daisy.
In the time it takes to watch an episode of Game of Thrones, Apple’s newest disassembly root can take apart up to 200 iPhones. She recovers valuable materials that can then be used to make new iPhones, such as tungsten, aluminum, palladium, copper and cobalt.
Daisy’s capable of disassembling nine different versions of the iPhone, separating parts and removing certain components as she works. Eventually, Apple hopes to reduce its need to mine for rare earths and metals, as well as be able to create new tech from recycled products.
Here’s another fun fact: Daisy’s made with refurbished parts from Liam, her recycling predecessor. She was built for greatness and to lead by example from the start. Her papa would be so proud.
Feel like the backbone of your household whenever you refill the Brita? Count your blessings. At this moment, one in 10 people around the world lack access to clean water. Non-profits like Charity:Water are looking to change that. Since 2006, this non-profit has funded more than 28,389 water projects in 26 countries.
If you’ve ever wondered how much of your donation money goes towards a cause you’re contributing to, you’ll appreciate Charity:Water’s transparency. Thanks to some stellar private donors that completely cover their operating costs, 100 percent of your donation will fund projects that provide those in need with clean water.
Any non-profit will tell you that securing these kind of high-dollar donors is no easy task. That’s why Charity:Water decided to pass around VR headsets during its annual black-tie fundraising banquet at the Met in 2016. During a short documentary, attendees saw firsthand what it can be like to lack access to clean water, and how Charity:Water’s projects can help.
The impact was significant, with $2.4 million secured that evening — with hundreds of thousands of donations continuing to roll in afterwards.
The Ocean Cleanup
Every year, more than 4.8 million metric tons of plastic wastes gets dumped into the world’s oceans — a number that researchers believe could actually be closer to 12.7 million.
As companies like Starbucks and Marriott are looking for ways to break free of plastic consumption, non-profits like The Ocean Cleanup are trying to reverse the damage already done.
The Ocean Cleanup was founded in 2013 by Dutch inventor Boyan Slat, a then-18-year-old aerospace engineering student. Its passive drifting system uses pipe and the ocean’s natural currents and winds to steer garbage towards a collection platform. The captured plastic is then brought back to shore for recycling and sold to B2C companies, with the resulting funds being used for future cleanup projects.
This summer, the system will be shipped out to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, the world’s largest collection of floating trash. More than twice the size of France, this patch sits between Hawaii and California and contains an estimated 1.8 trillion pieces of plastic. That’s 79,000 tons of trash, with a large portion of it made up of abandoned fishing gear.
The system is projected to clean up half of the patch in just five years. If successful, it will be the world’s first feasible method to rid the ocean of plastic waste. This pollution — made up of everyday items like grocery bags, water bottles and those devilish straws — has a deadly effect on wildlife and releases toxic chemicals into the ocean (and for any fish-eaters, onto our dinner plates).
Lead image via Getty