How Eco Friendly (Or Not) Are Smartphones?

biodegradable Jul 31st 2020


While some people might state that no eco friendly phone is as good for the environment as not purchasing any phone at all, the reality remains that you need to have phones in your daily life. Also, even though the next most environmentally friendly phone is the one you currently own, the fact again is that it might be high time to change your phone as your phone might have a dying and faltering battery life (thus making it practically unusable). Necessities aside, you might deem having smartphones as ‘keeping up with the rest’ and might feel left out should you opt out of having these mobile devices. 

Yet there are pockets of people who might feel that having smartphones and getting new ones are not exactly the most environmentally sustainable options to adopt given that smartphone manufacturing gives rise to huge amounts of scarce resources and energy being used to mine and make such new gadgets. While many smartphone manufacturers have stepped forward to take the helm in spearheading eco friendly efforts to reduce the amount of technological waste produced by smartphones, be reminded that no matter what phone you might opt to purchase or have your sights on, be sure not to discard your existing phone in the dump as it would only pollute and poison the environment. 

If you are still unsure as to how eco friendly (or not) smartphones are, read on to explore their environmental impact and why you should recycle existing phones instead of discarding them in favour of brand new ones. 


Smartphones Generate Lots Of Technological Waste 

It is no secret by now that smartphones contribute to the escalation of technological waste that damage the environment. Smartphones like the popular iPhone series contain a copious amount of heavy elements like lead and mercury that are hazardous to the environment and to human health. Every year, Singapore produces around 60,000 tonnes of technological waste (and more) and this figure could escalate if Singapore phone users are indiscriminate in their phone purchases. If left unchecked, the increasing stockpile of discarded phones would accumulate in our limited landfills and their toxins would cause untold damage to the air and to the surrounding biodiversity. Even with existing recycling efforts, few Singapore phone users can adequately recycle all parts of their smartphones. Instead, many phone users only recycle tiny portions of their smartphones and instead still discard the remaining components. 

Smartphones Are Straining Already Limited Natural Resources

If you think recycling some bits and pieces of your smartphones would suffice, think again in light of the fact that smartphone manufacturing is straining the amount of scarce natural resources available on our planet. 70 or more non-radioactive elements in the periodic table are found in smartphones alone! Based on certain studies, 16 rare Earth metals are found in smartphones too. For instance, dysprosium and terbium, that are found in smartphones to generate the various colours on phone displays and power phones to vibrate, are two of the rare Earth metals that are depleting due to increased smartphone manufacturing. Extracting rare Earth metals like terbium is a time and energy-consuming process. Furthermore, extracting such metals from the recesses of the Earth would disrupt the natural biodiversity of the areas surrounding them. 

Smartphones Utilise Server Energy 

Besides the manufacturing side of the story, one thing to note is that smartphones also utilise a great deal of server energy as users download multiple online files, use their emails and text their contacts. One can also upon closer scrutiny see the positive relationship between smartphone demand and the rise of energy-consuming data centres worldwide. This is because data centres cater to consumer behaviours of downloading, texting and emailing via their smartphones by powering these very actions themselves. Such services are round-the-clock and consume enormous amounts of energy that many of us consumers fail to see. Consequently, these communication networks and data centres could contribute to footprints amounting to around 764 megatons of CO2 equivalent by 2020.

What You Can Do To Be As Eco Friendly As Possible 

In light of the alarming statistics shown above and with a better understanding of the environmental impact of smartphones, you as a smartphone user can do your part to be as eco friendly and environmentally sustainable as possible. 

Firstly, you can avoid purchasing brand new smartphones despite your cravings for the latest and up-to-date gadgets. Reflect on your actual technological needs versus your wants and decide if a brand new smartphone is really worth getting or not. If you have assessed your needs and decided that you do not need a brand new smartphone, you can do your tiny part in saving the environment by opting to upgrade to a recycled second hand or refurbished phone instead. Check out reliable second hand phone marketplaces like Reebelo where you can obtain quality refurbished or second hand phones at highly discounted prices and save the environment as a result of your purchase. Every transaction on Reebelo will result in a tree planted in Indonesia or Vietnam to commemorate Reebelo’s efforts in reducing the total amount of environmental waste on this planet. 

Moreover, you can consider enjoying double savings and go one step further in saving the environment when you do not discard your existing phone. Instead,  trade your phone in to us at Reebelo for recycling purposes. Be sure to trade your current phone in at the same time when you purchase a refurbished or used phone with us at Reebelo to enjoy double savings. Hurry up and check our wide collection of quality refurbished and used phones here now, while stocks last!