Report: Smartphones Are Destroying Our Planet Faster Than We Think

by Adeel Younas
Published: Last Updated on
Co2 and Smartphones

The entire world knows that we are marching towards the brink of destruction while we enjoy our comfortable lives and fancy gadgets. But do you know that the end could be much nearer than we thought? A recent study has confirmed that the massive amount of carbon footprint released due to smartphones could kill our planet at an alarming rate.

Smartphones Are Killing This Planet Faster Than Anyone Expected

This entire world is marching towards destruction as we enjoy the comforts of lives through the usage of fancy gadgets. You should know that end could nearer than we thought!

According to a recent study from researchers at McMaster University published in the Journal of Cleaner Production analyzed the carbon impact of all of the ICT (Information and Communication Industry) from 2010-2020. They included PCs, laptops, monitors, smartphone and servers along with other electronic gadgets and the results are not suitable for us (who live on earth). Even though we shifted towards small PCs and laptops and smartphones from large tower PC, it’s still not helping the environment.

In the year 2017, ICT was accounted for only 1% of the total carbon footprint. Now, this figure has tripled, and it is on its way to exceeding 14% by 2040.  That’s half of the carbon impact of the entire transportation industry. A significant reason behind this is mining of rare minerals which are required for manufacturing of new smartphone. They are representing about 85% to 95% of phone’s total Carbon emission in its average 2 years of life.

Even as people are now buying phones less often, consumer electronics companies are attempting to make up for lost profits by selling bigger, fancier phones. The researchers found that smartphones with larger screens have a measurably worse carbon footprint than their smaller ancestors. Apple has publicly disclosed that building an iPhone 7 Plus creates roughly 10% more CO2 than the iPhone 6s, but an iPhone 7 standard produces approximately 10% less than a 6s. So according to Apple, the trend is getting better, but the bigger phones companies like Apple sell seem to offset some gains. Another independent study concluded that the iPhone 6s created 57% more CO2 than the iPhone 4s. And despite the recycling programs run by Apple and others, “based on our research and other sources, currently less than 1% of smartphones are being recycled,” Lotfi Belkhir, the study’s lead author, tells me.

The future will only get dire if the internet of things takes off and many more devices are hitting up the cloud for data.

We are already witnessing internet-enabled devices, ranging from the smallest form factor such as wearable devices to home appliances, and even cars, trucks and airplanes. If this trend continues, One can only wonder on the additional load these devices will have on the networking and data center infrastructures, in addition to the incremental energy consumption incurred by their production,” the team writes in the study. “Unless the supporting infrastructure moves quickly to 100% renewable power, the emergence of IoT could potentially dwarf the contribution of all the other traditional computing devices, and dramatically increase the overall global emissions well beyond the projections of this study.”

The original version of this article stated that, according to Apple environmental reports, iPhone 7 Plus production generated 25% more Carbon emission compared to iPhone 6s. That’s an alarming fact for Apple, and another company’s making new smartphone every other day.

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