What is the environmental impact of the Modern Geek smartphone?
What is the’environmental impact of the smartphone ?
On average, consumers change their smartphone every two years. This trend can be explained by a growing need for performance and a significant fashion effect. Moreover, these devices have progressively become disposable products with soldered batteries, programmed obsolescence… This rate of consumption is however harmful to biodiversity, ozone and climate.
What are the three main consequences when the’we throw a smartphone in the household waste ?
L’environmental impact of the smartphone is most noticeable when addressing the issue of waste management. Recycling channels are often ignored in this area, according to the Ademe (Agency for the Environment and Energy Management). Many end-of-life cell phones end up in the trash can with packaging and other household waste.
The treatment of the smartphone as household waste will have three logical results with heavy environmental consequences:
- incineration or burial of electronic components;
- permanent loss of essential materials (precious metals and rare earths);
- extraction of raw materials until resources are exhausted.
Each item also has an impact on the carbon footprint and the security aspect of the cell phones. Incineration battery waste, for example, has already caused fires in waste treatment centers in the United States. As a reminder, this part contains unstable, flammable and potentially explosive chemicals.
In addition, the process involves the release of CO2 and other greenhouse gases (GHG).
Landfill is just as problematic, even in the environmental impact of connected objects. This method leads to the diffusion of pollutants in the soil and the water table (eutrophication). Consumers are making the situation worse with their 20 kilograms of electronic waste each year.
That said, the manufacturing is the first source of pollution in the life cycle of smartphones. This step is indeed considered responsible for three quarters of the carbon footprint of laptops. As a result, it is unacceptable not to recycle materials used in the design of these devices.
For your information, a smartphone is made of about sixty materials, from plastics to metals. These include aluminum, copper, gold, nickel, palladium and rare earths (gallium, indium, terbium, etc.).). Without recycling, these elements will have a greater ecological impact.
Manufacturers will have to resort to extraction, despite its water and energy consumption.
How to reduce the environmental impact of the smartphone ?
Between 2007 and 2016, 7 billion cell phones were sold worldwide, according to Greenpeace. The environmental impact of the smartphone is therefore commensurate with this plebiscite. In addition, the the rate of consumption tends to accelerate The environmental impact of the smartphone is a major issue in the sector due to the strategy of the brands, technological evolution, etc.
Nevertheless, you still have the possibility to limit its environmental impact. How ?
You need more than anything else to slow down the frequency of purchases, if you want to reduce the ecological footprint of the smartphone. To do so, take care of your current cell phone by using a cover, a shell, a screen protector, etc. Be careful with your battery too by avoiding overheating, recharging at 0% or all night long… In the event of a breakdown, give priority to repairing it by asking for a warranty or after-sales service.
If you really have to change your phone, choose wisely your new ally by studying its different characteristics (functions, labels, ISO, CSR, etc.).). Consider a classic unplugged template, if your lifestyle allows. In addition, avoid large screens as much as possible.
This part of the smartphone is one of the most polluting (GHG emissions, toxicity, energy consumption…).
Today, the success of refurbishing represents a significant advance for the circular economy. The operation consists in refurbishing old models in order to reuse them. This eco alternative is really interesting and inexpensive, if you need to replace your smartphone.
You can also choose products more resistant and durable to improve your eco-balance.
Finally, avoid leaving a working laptop in your drawers. It could still be used by other users or repairmen. Sell it or give it away ! If it is in good condition, it will be recycled and resold after a complete restoration.
Your old device is also an important reserve of spare parts. This simple gesture will thus limit theenvironmental impact of the smartphone.