Initiative for Responsible Mining Assurance Hires Leader

April 2, 2013 • IRMA

London, April 2, 2013: The Initiative for Responsible Mining Assurance (IRMA) announces its hiring of London-based Matthew Wenban-Smith as Managing Director.  IRMA is a multi-stakeholder dialogue that is developing a global certification program for more responsible mining.

In accepting the position, Matthew Wenban-Smith said, “We all depend on the products of mining – but we need to make sure that our enjoyment of these benefits does not come at an unacceptable cost to people or the environment.” He added: “I am looking forward to joining IRMA’s team at this critical point in its development and to working with all its partners, supporters and stakeholders to make its vision of responsible mining a reality.”

OMG iPhone 5!

October 17, 2012 • Hilary Lewis

Wow. The iPhone 5 is the greatest phone in the history of the world - 50 million people agree!

As it turns out, there were many phones before the iPhone 5, and let’s face it, they’re all old news now.

But what to do with my old phone!?

Water and Shale Gas: Increased demand and decreased availability

October 12, 2012 • Bruce Baizel

Increased demand and decreased availability are pushing water quantity to the forefront of public discussion.

The main variable for the volume of water used in fracking is the geology of the basin being fracked. 

What do we know about actual volumes of water used in different states to frack the shale formations?  Very little, until recently, when a number of states began requiring that water volumes used in hydraulic fracturing operations be reported on the FracFocus website.  Colleagues of mine just recently collected the data reported there.

 

The President has lost his way on natural gas

September 7, 2012 • Alan Septoff

Whatever the overall merits of President Obama's speech last night, it made one thing clear: the President has lost his way on natural gas.

Obama -- in declaring his goal to foster the creation of 600,000 natural gas jobs by the end of his second term -- effectively hammered the last nail in the coffin of the pretense that natural gas (i.e. shale gas) is a "bridge" to a clean energy economy. 

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Major Companies Shifting Focus to Benefit from E-Waste

August 10, 2012 • EARTHWORKS

The electronics market is experiencing rapid growth and consumers are replacing their electronics very frequently. According to the EPA, in 2009, “2.37 million tons of electronics were ready for end-of-life management.” It is important that all these electronics are properly recycled because they contain precious metals that could potentially be used to produce new electronics.

From an economic perspective, companies always seek to maximize their profits. As demand for precious minerals increases and mineral prices begin to seem unbearable, companies are looking for alternatives.

According to an article in Business Wire, “Major international corporations such as Waste Management (NYSE: WM), Sprint Nextel (NYSE: S), Cisco Systems (NASDAQ: CSCO) and more are investing heavily in e-waste recycling as mineral prices soar worldwide.”

Electronic Waste Recycling: When a Responsible Decision Results in Irresponsible Consequences

June 12, 2012 • EARTHWORKS

With all the innovation in the market today, consumers are constantly upgrading their electronic devices. Many consumers are making the responsible decision to recycle their unwanted electronic items. When managed properly, parts of their old electronics could be reused and potentially enter the supply chain again, thus decreasing the need to mine precious metals.

Apple’s Supply Chain: Sacrificing Fair Labor Practices to Build Your Fancy iPhone

February 24, 2012 • EARTHWORKS

Apple is known for creating state-of-the-art electronic products that become the most wanted items of the day. Products such as the iPhone, iPod, iPad, and MacBook have revolutionized the electronics industry and made Apple one of the most successful companies in the world.

However, recent incidents have exposed the unfair labor practices at Foxconn and Wintek, Apple’s suppliers in China. The mental and physical health of workers at their facilities are overlooked as they are constantly under great pressure and overworked. Many workers live in crowded dorms and work longer hours than what Apple has suggested – Apple claims there is a maximum 60-hour workweek except in unusual circumstances.

Banned by Apple: new iPhone app exposing the dark side of electronics

September 20, 2011 • Nick Magel


Photo: "Phone Story"

Last week Italian developer Molleindustria released a new iPhone app called “Phone Story”.

Why was this app different than the other 425,000 apps?
This app was a satirical game that allowed you to play through the entire supply chain of an iPhone. 

Why did Apple ban this app?
Likely because it exposes the nastiest parts of what it takes to make our electronics. 

The game starts in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Here you are in charge of mining for coltan, a critical element in smart phones. The kicker is, that many coltan mines in the eastern DRC have horrific histories of child labor, military and rebel violence, human rights abuses, and disastrous environmental impacts. 

The game’s point is to highlight all the above, and judging by Apple’s reaction it highlighted it well. Within hours of the game’s release Apple had banned the app and removed it from its store