Refurbished Mobiles Save The Environment
Smartphones are arguably the most important modern invention. They’ve become our pocket best friends and a portable tool most people can’t imagine life without.
Today, these rectangular slabs have become so important that over 1.4 billion of them are manufactured and sold yearly. With such a huge figure, one can’t help but wonder the environmental impacts of such large-scale production activity. So in this post, we’ll dive into the impact of smartphones on our environment.
The Impact Of Phones On The Environment
Mobile phones, per se, have very little effect on the environment. In fact, they are one of the most power-efficient gadgets around. They are so power efficient that they cost the average person less than a dollar per year on energy bills.
How Mobile Phones Are Bad For The Environment
As said before, cell phones themselves have little to no environmental effect. But that’s not all there is to the story. Mobile phones themselves don’t have a negative environmental impact. But their manufacturing process does. And that’s not all.
Another big sustainability problem tied to mobile phones is the amount of e-waste produced by the common two-year upgrade cycle. The circle greatly encourages dumping, and that is one of the major contributors to today’s e-waste problem.
Mobile phones are very power-efficient devices. But the manufacturing process is the exact opposite. The production of a new cell phone uses lots of raw materials, especially metals, and causes a lot of CO2 emissions.
In fact, over 75 different elements are used in manufacturing a single new mobile phone. Materials like silver, copper, lithium, and even rare metals like dysprosium, neodymium, and dysprosium all go into its production.
To make things worse, The mining of these raw materials is another carbon emission power house.
During a device's two-year life cycle, the manufacturing process accounts for more than 85-90 percent of CO2 emissions. The remainder comes from consumer usage and transportation from supplier to consumer.
Just buying a brand new device consumes as much energy as recharging and using a phone for a decade!
E-Waste is another big environmental problem that mobile phones contribute to a lot.
When people upgrade their devices after the wrongly perceived 2-year life cycle of a smartphone, What happens next? You guessed it, the device ends up in a dump. Adding to the already big e-waste problem.
For perspective, in 2019, society produced 50 million tons of electronic waste. And only 12.5% of e-waste is currently recycled.
The chemicals contained in these electronics are mostly pollutants. So they damage soil nutrients, air, and water. E-waste comprises 70% of all toxic landfill. And smartphones make up over 10% of all e-waste.
The main catalyst of smartphones' huge contribution to e-waste is the 2-year upgrade cycle. So, if we use our phones longer, we reduce their impact. And that’s where refurbished phones come in.
Refurbished Phones Help The Environment
Refurbished phones are mostly used phones that were sold back to retailers or traded in. And then tested for faults and repaired where necessary. Before being resold.
Using phones longer is the simplest way to reduce their environmental impact. And using a refurbished phone is the best way to do that because:
- People change their phones in the first place because as they get older, they get slower. That’s not an issue with refurbished phones.
- People also upgrade because their older phones are broken. Refurbished phones are usually in perfect condition.
Studies show that by using a phone for three years instead of two, it reduces its lifetime CO2 impact by a third. While also reducing the need for resources to produce more new phones.
Environmental Advantages of Refurbished Phones
Phones are one of the most significant sources of e-waste. In total, cellphones account for over 10% of all e-waste.
So, by buying refurbished phones, fewer phones are dumped and less e-waste is produced. Saving
Reduced Energy Consumption
As previously stated, the production of a single brand new phone accounts for more than 85-90 percent of CO2 emissions over its entire lifespan.
So, by buying a refurbished phone, you are saving the bulk of the device's CO2 emissions. Because the inefficient manufacturing process doesn’t have to be repeated.
Electronic waste makes up for 70% of all toxic landfill. And phones are a major contributor.
In other words, when phones and other electronics are dumped, they release toxic substances that pollute the soil, air and water.
By purchasing a refurbished phone, you prevent more phones from being added to the already large toxic landfill. And you play a role in encouraging more companies to reuse phones by either using them for parts or repairing them to be sold as refurbished phones instead of dumping them.
There are Fewer Raw Materials Required/Wasted.
Over 75 different elements are needed to make a single device. includes precious metals like gold, platinum, and silver. All that mining and work just for it to end up in a dump after two years is kind of ridiculous.
In fact, there’s more gold in one ton of e-waste than there is in one ton of ore. And there’s over 50 million tonnes of e-waste and of that, only 12.5% is recycled. That’s a lot of gold just sitting there playing waste.
Refurbished phones need way fewer materials. A refurbished phone only requires a few parts replacement. Some refurbished phone dealers take this further by getting all their parts from scrap phones.
Refurbished phones are clearly a better choice for the environment. After reading this, you can do your part by making sure your next phone is a refurbished one. And by encouraging others around you to do the same. Every ton counts.