Is phone manufacturing environmentally friendly? Of course not, it’s not a wooden tool, it’s a device full of electronic components. Although a mobile phone may seem like a small device, the impact of each piece is really significant on our planet. It’s not just the manufacture of phones that creates a carbon footprint, but also their use.
The carbon footprint of phone manufacturing
There are several different elements that make up the carbon footprint of phone manufacturing. We need to consider the materials used (such as metals), the energy used to run the factory and the transportation of components, packaging and final products. Based on these values, let’s assume that the carbon footprint of an average mobile phone is 70 kg of CO2 each year.
The average person is expected to live to 81 years of age and the average child is expected to get their first phone at the age of 10. So the average person has a phone for about 71 years, which is equivalent to 4 970 kg of CO2. This is equivalent to 7.5 times the flight from London to New York.
That doesn’t sound too bad, but remember that there are over 5 billion mobile users worldwide.
The carbon footprint of using and charging your phone
Using your phone every day has a bigger impact on the environment than just making it. It takes a lot of energy to run the data centres and infrastructure that allow you to make video calls, post selfies and stream TV. A one-minute mobile-to-mobile call produces 0.1g of CO2, sending a text message (SMS) produces 0.014g of CO2 and using 1GB of data consumes 0.3kg of CO2.
The average user generates approximately 16.7 kg of CO2 per year through usage (calls, messages and data) and charging. This is equivalent to approximately 25% of the carbon footprint of your smartphones.