The dark side of Europe’s tech industry to be highlighted next week

A large, hard-hitting piece of street art will greet crowds at Europe’s biggest technology conference in Barcelona next week.

The 3D ‘crack in the ground’ work by pavement artist Eduardo Relero shines a light on the fastest growing form of waste in Europe, gadgets, as well as the solutions green groups are calling for.

Draft designs for the 10 metre pavement protest due to appear in Barcelona next week.


The organisers of Mobile World Congress highlight their green claims prominently. The conference tagline is “Creating a Better Future”.

European Environmental Bureau Waste Officer Piotr Barczak said:

“People love technology; the upgrades, the unboxing, the new features. But there’s a dirty side to our tech obsession: trainloads of broken tech, trundling out of our cities and towards hellish waste dumps in Africa and Asia.

“We do not want to guilt trip consumers. They are victims too, seduced into buying the latest stuff as their expensive gadgets break early. There is a lot firms can do to extend product life, but they are happy to continue cashing in on the status quo at our expense. They should make products more repairable, modular, extend software support, detox them to reduce the chemicals around us and in the recycling chain.”

Samsung is set to dominate WMC by unveiling its latest flagship phone, the S9, this Sunday.

Activists have been calling on manufacturers like Samsung and Apple to make products more modular, upgradeable and easier to take apart for repair. Software support should be extended, repair manuals and spare parts made more widely available, they argue. The EU has rebuffed for years NGO calls to include smartphones in Ecodesign Directive rules.

Collection and recycling rates of electronic waste in Europe remain low, often because people hoard old equipment.