A recently published Greenpeace report depicts the consequences of 10 years of global smartphone use.
Can you imagine that it's been only 10 years since the launch of Apple's first iPhone in 2007 started a new era in communication? Since then, more than 7 billion smartphones have been produced, meaning that every citizen of the world could, in theory, be a smartphone owner. The facts are different: "Only" about 2 billion people in the world use a smartphone.
This lag between users and phones is due to the high turnover rate of the devices: An average American replaces his or her phone after 2 years. This obviously makes smartphone manufacturers achieve record profits, but it also has considerable impacts on people and planet, as Greenpeace shows in their recent report "From Smart to Senseless: The Global Impact of Ten Years of Smartphones".
The report raises three main issues regarding smartphones:
- The production process: Miners work under life-threatening conditions to extract precious metals, workers in electronic factories are exposed to hazardous chemicals and the energy consumed throughout the whole process is increasing the demand for dirty energies like coal.
- Repairability : Only very few phones have easily replaceable batteries. This means consumers are forced to replace their whole device when the battery starts to dwindle.
- Recyclability : Given the complexity of the devices, disassembly is difficult. This means that when recycled, smartphones are usually smelted. Smelting is however, inefficient at recovering many of the materials.
If we want to conserve our planet, this cannot go on!
It is now time for the IT sector to set an example by moving from a linear to a circular production model.