It has happened to all of us: our mobile phone breaks and, instead of fixing it, We look for an…
It has happened to all of us: our mobile phone breaks and, instead of fixing it, We look for an alternative to take advantage of the occasion and renew the team . It is a normal behavior and I would dare to say that standardized in a large part of society, but unfortunately it entails quite important problems for the environment . It seems that the affirmation “Buying a new smartphone is worse than fixing the one you already have” is obvious, but what is not so obvious is the trace * that we are leaving because of a gesture as simple as changing mobile.
It has been the researchers Lotfi Belkhir and Ahmed Elmeligi , of the McMaster University , which, in a study published in the Journal of Cleaner Production , have determined that buy a new smartphone consumes as much energy as using your existing phone for a decade . The study analyzed the carbon impact of the entire Information and Communication Technology (ICT) industry from 2010 to 2020, including that produced by computers (desktop and laptops), monitors, smartphones and web servers. The data is devastating.
If you ask anyone how often do you think you should change your mobile , I may tell you that every two years . A point has arrived at which two years of life seem an eternity to us, and that a mobile reaches them a milestone. Nevertheless, a life cycle of two years is very low , to the point that smartphones could be considered “disposable consumables”.
This short life cycle, together with the programmed obsolescence , generates a imperative to manufacture more and more devices as time goes. The problem is that manufacturing new mobiles is very expensive in environmental terms. The main culprit of this is the extraction of materials that are used in the production of its internal components – surely you sound like coltan -. This extraction supposes between a 85 and 95% of total CO2 emissions of the device during its two years of life.
Another curious fact revealed by the researchers is that Smartphones with larger screens have a considerably higher carbon footprint than the old models, whose screens were smaller. In Co.Design they set the example of the iPhone 6S and iPhone 7 Plus. Apple recognized that build an iPhone 7 Plus generates 10% more CO2 than an iPhone 6S . In turn, other studies warn that, for its part, the iPhone 6S generated 57% more CO2 than the 4S.
Changing mobile means consuming as much energy as repairing and using a smartphone for a whole decade
One troubling fact is that, according to Logit Belkhir, lead author of the study, only 1% of smartphones are recycled . This clashes head-on with the numerous recycling proposals that many companies have launched over the last few years. Worst of all, the author himself acknowledges that they have been conservative in the conclusions of his investigation, which means that These figures could be much worse.
According to Co.Design, “Smartphones represent a rapidly growing ICT segment, but the biggest culprit in CO2 emissions belongs to the servers and data centers themselves, which will account for 45% of ICT emissions by 2020” . This is because everything we do with our smartphones must go through servers. As more users have a smartphone, more apps and services will use, more processing power will be needed, ergo more servers and more pollution . And eye, that The Internet of Things has not yet taken off.
Belkhir states that governments, through policies and taxes, should do what is necessary for companies to use renewable energy sources . Google, Facebook and Apple have already committed to this, but only Apple has managed, for now, that all its servers work with green energy. This, according to the author of the study, “It’s encouraging” although he does not think things change too much.
In a nutshell, the next time you’re going to switch phones lightly, the same thing interests you to go through the technical service , repair it and continue to squeeze it a bit more. Not for you, but for the planet.
* Carbon footprint : totality of greenhouse gases (GHG) emitted by direct or indirect effect of an individual, organization, event or product.
Source : Fast Co.Design , Science Direct , The Guardian
Do you have Facebook installed? Get the best article of each day in our Page .