What is the ecological impact of a mobile? And pollutes a phone

very polluting chimney

Something as simple as catch our whatsappear mobile phone to a friend or share a video on social networks, although not think about it, it costs ecologically. Cost is difficult to measure because it is influenced by different aspects such as how the user to use your device or obviously we have the phone in his hands.

Perhaps the question of how much pollutes my phone? not the formulating of a sudden too many people, but among those who have done so researchers James Suckling and Jaquetta Lee, belonging to the Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences at the University of Surrey found. In a study published online on June 10 this year trying to figure out what the environmental impact of a mobile phone.

What phone is the dirtiest?

Any action taken by a human being has an environmental impact and how to measure this is by the so-called carbon footprint. This particular all greenhouse gases that are released into the atmosphere by direct or indirect action of an individual.

This study, which focuses on 9 concrete mobile phones, whose manufacturers have seen fit to publish the environmental impact of each, and the average of the Nokia 2003 phone is determining the carbon footprint at different stages of their lifecycle. The study results according to the terminal can see them in the following table, which shows the different aspects that influence CO2 emissions into the atmosphere.

Terminal Mining and manufacturing (kg CO2 per unit of media)
Transport (Kg CO2 per unit of media) Use (Kg CO2 per unit of media) End of Life (Kg CO2 per unit of media) Total
(Kg CO2 per unit of media)
life (in years)
Nokia 2003 7.9 2.1 3.6 - 13.6 2
Iphone 4s 35.75 3.85 13,75 1.65 55 3
Iphone 5s 56.7 3.5 8.4 1.4 70 3
Iphone 6 80.75 2,85 10.45 0.95 95 3
HTC One 23.65 2.92 13.89 0.04 40.5 3
Nokia 105 3.57 1.4 1,96 0.07 7 3
Nokia Lumia 720 15.12 1,89 3.78 0,21 twenty-one 3
Nokia Lumia 1520 28.86 1.85 5.92 0,37 37 3
Sony Xperia T 35.4 5 3.8 1 45.2 3
Fairphone 5.34 2,73 7.91 0.07 16.04 3

The measured parameters comprise different phases of the life cycle of a device, such as mining and manufacturing, transportation, the cost of telephone use and their total. Finally you consider what is the average life of each. In this regard we must contemplate various factors, not less, when determining the impact of a telephone or another because it does not speak only of the device itself.

For example, it is not the same as a Fairphone (the smartphone developed with an eye toward sustainability) that is delivered without charger or headphones Nokia, which does have these accessories. According to Nokia, the addition of these involves adding to the production process 4 kg over CO2.

"According to the study the most polluting phone is iPhone 6 and minus the Nokia 105."

The complexity of a device is another element to consider; we can see how the emission of gases that involves developing an iPhone version after version in which technological innovations are applied is increasing. Very high when compared with a modern but simple device that performs basic functions such as the Nokia 105.
The ability to reuse and recycle their parts also influences their carbon footprint and life, which has been based on data provided by other studies situating in almost 3 years.

Fairphone has been proposed to be a smartphone as sustainable as possibleFairphone has been proposed to be a smartphone as sustainable as possible / PICNIC Network edited CC 2.0 license

And how pollute our habits?

As mentioned before pollution is not just a phone device thing. Also our habits and user profile decisively influence the emission of more or less gas. I must say, though, that study results are based on what it is assumed to be a user typical for Nokia, HTC or Apple. They show him as an intense Internet users through social activity or messaging, but also through the so-called passive consumption. That is, viewing videos or browsing.

This consumption affects the use of servers and networks, which obviously have a cost on emissions. Also in the life of the phone we as two different types of users, if we strictly stuck to the device in terms of hardware, not the operating system requirements that require new applications, one terminal will not last the same thing (nor need charge your battery the same number of times).

Several studies estimated at one-fifth of the population the number of consumers who are aware of the challenges which this economic system lie ahead if we really want to change it to another regenerator and committed to sustainability.

(Interview with Miquel Ballester)

Incidentally, the results in terms of use are calculated on a 3G network where users generate on average between 8.5 and 30 GB annual data and corresponds to emit between 0.55 and 2 kg of CO2 (as emissions 0.6 kg per kWh).

Issues to consider about sustainability of mobile telephony

We are all longing for the table phone manufacturers like Samsung or Huawei. This is because in the technology industry there is considerable opacity when publishing these data face the general public and therefore not included in the study. On the other hand, it is also true that publication does not mean they are true ... What no, Volkswagen? However we will grant them the benefit of the doubt.

In the process of mitigating the environmental impact of mobile phones is key reuse and recycling of the various components of terminals. Development also targeting a more intelligent use of energy, with new efficient charging systems technology.

In turn play a decisive role providers and large telecommunications companies, whose work on sustainable plan should focus on providing more efficient use of networks and servers hosting different mobile services.

Some quick data drawn from the study

  • An iPhone 6 is equivalent to travel 863km with Ford Focus 1.0 EcoBoost petrol engine 125hp 2014 (110 grams per kilometer). Nokia 105 is equivalent to 63 km routes with this car.
  • According to Apple, only the first weekend after the launch of iPhone 6 10 million units were sold. This translates into 950,000 tons of CO2 potentially released into the atmosphere.
  • The environmental impact of an iPhone 6 is equivalent to just over 13.5 Nokia 105.
  • The sustainable smartphone is Fairphone, with potential gas emission 16.04 kg per unit. Lumia 720 follows with 21.
  • The CO2 generated by transporting a Nokia 105 is 1.4 kg per unit compared to 3,85 generating an iPhone 4s.
  • An average user release 13.89 kg of CO2 into the atmosphere using a HTC One while someone using a Nokia 105 will leave this figure at 1.96.
  • The cost of reuse of an iPhone 4s translates into 1.65 kg of CO2 emitted while recycling a Fairphone or Nokia 105 involves emissions of 0.07 kg.
  • The potential release medium gases between an iPhone 4s and iPhone 6 increases by 40 kg with the latter.
  • Apple has managed to reduce the environmental costs of transport in a kg of CO2 between iPhone 4S and iPhone 6.