Extending the lifetime of all phones in the EU by just one year would save 2.1 million tonnes of CO2 per year, according to a report by Ethical Consumer.
Around 211 million smartphones are sold annually, with the average smartphone being used for between two to three years before upgrading.
According to a 2019 study, the annual climate impact of all EU phone stock is 14.12 million tonnes of CO2.
Ethical Consumer has said that extending the life of smartphones is a vital way to reduce their climate impact and could save 2.1 million tonnes of CO2.
Manufacturing, distribution, and disposal accounts for around 72% of a phone’s climate impact.
To manufacture a smartphone requires many different raw materials, among these is a number of metal elements that are commonly sourced in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The mining trade in the Congo has for many years been used to fund brutal conflicts.
According to Ethical Consumer, many of the best-known tech brands still aren’t tracing their supply chains, and could well be using conflict minerals to make smartphones.
Ethical Consumer researcher, Alex Crumbie said: ‘We’ve released a guide for shoppers to know who is doing what to tackle this shocking trade, the profits of which are fueling armed conflict and human misery, all for a new gadget that’s often replacing something that still works.
Of the companies included in our guides, Google, Apple, Fariphone, LG, Lenovo, and Sony were found to meet the criteria for our best Conflict Minerals rating; whilst Doro, Nokia, HTV, Huawei, Samsung received our worst rating.
As consumers, we’ve become far more conscious of the impact of issues such as single-use plastic, and the damage caused by fast-fashion.
We also need to consider our relationship with tech, we need to call for better policies to protect vulnerable workforces in the supply chain, and to consider the environmental impact of a new device.
Whether that is by demanding more elements of our phones be modular and easier to replace or upgrade, or by renewing tech less frequently.
Whilst we know a phone isn’t necessarily going to be for life, it definitely should last us longer than a couple of Christmasses.’
Photo Credit – Pixabay