Want to make an impact in the simplest way possible? Value your smartphone and keep it as long as possible, you will do the best favour to you, your beloved and your planet without any effort.
Do you know the materials that make up a smartphone?
📱In addition to plastic and iron, a smartphone contains precious metals and rare-earth elements. For a single smartphone it is necessary to dig at least 30 kg of rock, almost all of which is extracted in countries with a lack of environmental rules, and therefore with serious damage to the natural ecosystem.
On average, we keep our mobile phones for less than two years: therefore overall, our smartphone has a carbon footprint of 17.2 kg CO2 per year. However, the more we keep it, the more it decreases.
To satisfy short-term consumers habits, today around 1.5 billion new smartphones are sold all over the world every year. In total, to produce the current smartphone consumption, 45 million tons of rock are extracted, almost all of which is extracted especially in Africa and China, often without any rules and therefore with serious damage to the natural ecosystem.
Is there something we can we do to minimise its carbon footprint? Here four main steps to start.
☝🏻Keep your smartphone as much as possible.
✌🏻When your decide it is time to change it, look for a secondary market, to give him a new life..do not keep it in a drawer or throw it away.
🤟🏻Check with your provider whether and how they are going to recycle its components..we as consumer can push for a change.
👉🏻Need a new smartphone? Look for fairer way to purchase it: there are more and more opportunities to make a better choice!
What materials are inside a smartphone? Some facts.
About 50% of a smartphone is made up of plastic material (95g), especially in the body where there are also magnesium and boron to resist heat. The rest consist of metals, precious metals and rare-earth elements. These to be extracted require impacting processes involving chemicals, high temperatures, and large use of water.
Touchscreen, battery, internal electronics, wiring, microelectronic components, conductors and micro-capacitors, microphone and speaker, device vibration, microprocessor, welds, vivid color tones, ... Each functionality is possible thanks to a specific natural element… rocks to be precise. A cell phone contains in average 11g iron, 250mg of silver, 24mg of gold, 9mg of palladium, 9g of copper and 3.5g of cobalt, and another 70/80 grams of more materials, including at least 1 g of rare earths.
"It's simple....keep your smartphone 🙌 You can save precious rocks, minimise its production cycle's impact and avoid filling up landfills!”
What does this mean? How smartphone production looks like? Are they recycled?
♻️⚠️Although 96% of the materials are recoverable, today only 15% of smartphones are recycled. Very little is done because the more the equipment is miniaturised, the more complex and costly are the systems capable of disassembling and retrieving.
One of the most recovered elements is gold, because its extraction from electronic devices is less expensive than mining it: 1 gram of gold can be obtained from 36 mobile phones; to get the same quantity, 100 kg of raw ore have to be processed. In this case, recycling is more convenient: however it is carried out in the poorest and most degraded areas of the planet, using toxic acids without any protection for workers and then disposing of the residues in the environment.
It was estimated that the recycling of a smartphone could lead to the saving of 1,6kg of CO2. For the environment it is definitely worth it, however technologies and processes need to be put in place, as well as information for users about the “hidden” impacts associated with the use of smartphones.
What is the carbon footprint of a smartphone?
Considering the current average beennial usage period, the carbon footprint of a smartphone is 17.2 kg CO2 per year.
👉🏻Most of it is due to the to extraction and processing of materials and following manufacturing of part 10.7 kg CO2, the assembly weighs 2.7 kg CO2, the distribution 1.9 kg CO2, the device recharging 1.9 kg CO2.
The emissions related to communication services weight extra 26.4 kg per year: if we add them to 17.2 kg, we reach 43.6 kg.
A great difference is made by the timeframe to replace the object:
👉🏻 if we keep the smartphone for three years, the annual impact is 12.1 kg,
👉🏻if we keep it for four years, the annual impact is 9.5 kg.
For now we can start simple,
👉🏻let's keep the smartphone as much as possible and minimize its (and our) ecological footprint)
👉🏻in case it is broken, let's do our best to fix it;
👉🏻in case we want to change it, let's not put it in a drawer, but push for having it reused or recycled (see links below @fairphone, @IFIXIT, @Mazuma);
"It's simple....value your smartphone..there is way more in than you think”
I can not hide you that this article has made me aware of something I was not realising before. I do have my smartphone and I have never thought about all what I have just written above. I will try myself to reduce my carbon footprint, and hold it until I can, regardless of fashion and attractive promotion. Why shouldn't I try?
Anything else I can do?
Of course yes, in many ways and scale, all what I have just described applies for most digital devices, but we want to make it simple for you. For now just start with this, you can already do a great impact, to yourself and the planet. Then, you may want to apply this reasoning to your others digital purchases?
We will provide more simplesteps soon..stay tuned 🙌
Interesting articles and Sources👇🏻👇🏻👇🏻:
Reducing the carbon footprint of ICT products through material efficiency strategies: A life cycle analysis of smartphones - #Journal of industrial ecology @MauroCordella, Felice Alfieri, Javier Sanfelix