Smartphone E-waste: How Consumers and Companies Can Address It

In today’s world, mobile phones have become your best friend. Most of your time goes by scrolling or searching things on your phone. You know that mobile phones have many benefits but do you know, it has a massive impact on the environment. During the production of mobile phones, 80% of carbon footprint occurs because of the intensive energy processes during manufacturing and mining. 

During these processes, a mobile phone emits an average of 55 kg of carbon. It seems to be a small number. The number becomes huge when 1.55 billion phones are sold in a year. A one-minute call produces 0.1g of carbon dioxide (CO2), a text message makes 0.014g of CO2, and 1GB of mobile data uses 0.3kg of CO2. In a year, the average of an honest mobile user generates approximately 16.7kg of CO2. It is also one of the reasons for increasing the carbon footprint. 

What Is a Carbon Footprint? 

Carbon footprint is the total amount of greenhouse gases that include CO2 and methane (CH4). These emissions are caused by an individual, an organization, or a place. There are various reasons for the emission. It includes the burning of fossil fuels, transportation, roads, woods, production, etc. In simple words, human activities are the main reason for the emission of greenhouse gases. It leads to an increase in the temperature of the earth resulting in climatic change.

How Can Companies Build Sustainable Smartphones? 

As the world is evolving, everyone is aware of the importance of taking care of the environment. Smartphone companies are adopting new technologies to create sustainable smartphones and reduce waste by recycling old phones. A question must be arising in your mind. Which phone can be considered a sustainable smartphone? 

The phone is made up of sustainable materials (materials that do not damage the environment), and recycled material is sustainable smartphones. The key features of the phone should be less energy consumption and durability. A mobile repair should be inexpensive.

Now, let’s discuss the steps of recycling a phone:

  • Batteries of the old phones are taken out and sent to another place for recycling.
  • The phone parts are separated and heated to around 1100 degrees Celsius.
  • The phones are turned into dust and undergo chemical processing.
  • The phones are sent to the smelter (extracts valuable metals for reuse).
  • Plastic is recovered from phone components by using energy from incineration. The plastic from the outer body of the phone is granulated, then reformulated and used in moldings.

Many companies have adopted these methods to reduce waste. ‘Fonebak’ was the 1st mobile recycling company established in 2002. The process of recycling has become easy with the passing year. Due to awareness, many supermarkets, online companies, and mobile phone shops are happy to collect old phones and send them for recycling.

Further, we are dealing with a real device problem and now we have a desire to solve hang problem in iPhone. You can also use Find My iPhone from another device, such as your computer. A prominent feature of iOS 15 is the ability to hide IP addresses on iPhone. Second, you can erase remote data.

How Can Consumers Reduce E-waste? 

Consumers have to shop smart to reduce waste. If you, as a buyer, are aware of the repercussions of your choices, things can move a lot faster towards change. You can do it by keeping small- small things in mind while buying your next smartphone. They are as follows:

  • Research about the company: Before buying a phone, research about the company and search for the following questions: 
    • What does the company do for sustainability? 
    • What materials are they using to manufacture a smartphone? 
    • What kind of energy are they using? 
    • What measures do they take to protect the environment from the production process?

By finding answers to these questions, you can take your 1st step to contribute to reducing waste.

  • Sustainable design: As discussed above, sustainable phones are made of recycled material. They consume less energy. They are durable and inexpensive to repair if damaged.
  • Take-back policy: Before buying a phone, check with the company if they have a take-back policy or not. It means that when your phone becomes old, you can give it to the company or not for recycling. As you know, more materials collected and recycled will reduce more waste.

Recycling is necessary nowadays. Do you know in America, people change their phones every 18 months on average? It accumulates a very high number of electronic waste, as 100 to 120 million phones are discarded every year. It is so important to recycle and reuse and reduce waste. It will help in:

  • Environmental conservation: We can destroy the hazardous material the phone contains and save our environment.
  • Energy conservation: Recycled cell phones save so much energy and can charge a laptop for 44 hours.
  • Disease prevention: The toxic material in a cell phone is also dangerous for humans and animals. It is the cause of cancer in humans, and the mercury present in the phone can weaken the muscles of animals.

The smartphone industry is always linked to increased toxic e-waste. But the laws and public opinion are driving the change now. Thus, smartphone companies must reduce the waste generations and recycle as much as they can. This has again proved that consumer behavior can really drive change. If users show interest in something, companies will go leaps and bounds to follow. The era of sustainability is here, and industries are contributing to it. 

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