Photo via Christian Steen via Flickr CC
Tech On reports that the e-paper market is set to grow at an astounding rate, from US$70 million in 2008 to US$2.1 billion in 2015 and US$7 billion by 2020. And about 50% of that market will be thanks to e-books and the push for e-readers. However, we also just noted that consumer gadgets are taking up a whole lot of energy, offsetting efficiency efforts. That means it's time to start asking some sustainability questions. Digital e-books are a great way to lower the impact of reading, same as digital music cutting down the consumption of materials like CDs, CD cases and so on. e-Readers allow for not only thousands of books to be held on one energy efficient device, but also documents, which helps cut down on the need for printing in business settings. There are a lot of pros to e-paper technology and the efficiency gains it gives to consumer electronics that utilize it.
But we have to think about the impact that such a rapid rise in these gadgets will have on the environment. It's time to be asking manufacturers like Amazon and Sony about the lifespan of their devices, the fixability, recyclability, toxicity of materials used, the eco-impact of the manufacturing processes, and take-back programs for consumers.
If we know this market is set to take off, we also know it's time to press the manufacturers to be responsible about the products they're putting out into the world.
So, if you find yourself looking to purchase an e-reader - and it sounds like it's just a matter of time before we're all carting one around - remember to ask the green questions before laying money down.