As tech lovers rushed into the famous Mobile World Congress in Barcelona on Monday they were greeted by a mammoth artwork highlighting the grim danger of our tech addiction.

Artist Eduardo Relero’s giant piece of pavement art depicts the dark side of technology but also the solutions that could help us move to a more circular model.

The conference was organised by GSMA (Global System for Mobile Communications) and is one of the key dates in the tech calendar where brands typically launch their latest gadgets and gismos. The conference organisers refused requests from the campaigners to host the piece of art inside the conference.

The arty protest was organised by the EEB and Spanish NGO EcoUnion. The two NGOs are calling for better design, upgradeability, modularity and an end to the war on repair.

E-waste has been a growing problem in recent years due to the upgrade cycles, making reparability or longevity impossible for most technologic devises. The waste generated by tech reached 44.7 million metric tonnes in 2016. The situation raises environmental issues but also social ones.

Jack Hunter, Senior Communication Officer at the EEB, explains:

The conference revolved around the Sustainable Development Goals and the role tech could play in helping governments meet them. But for many inside the conference, the claims to focus on sustainability fell flat.

Jack Hunter said brands should take action:

“They need to stop fighting the Right to Repair movement”

The ‘Right to Repair’ movement works to make it easier for customers to repair their products. In cities across Europe, there has been a spike in the number of repair cafes, which campaigners say shows consumers have had enough of the planned obsolescence era.