Global warming and pollution are by far the two most important environmental threats in history of mankind. How do mobiles and mobile technologies relate to this? The answer is simple and short – mobiles are one of the most common electronic consumer products sold worldwide. It is estimated that there are 2.15 billion mobile users globally, and by 2009 as much as 2.6 billion people owns a mobile (source: Gartner )
The numbers mean a little, but if you compare them to something concrete the magnitude becomes apparent:
- If you stacked a pile of 2.6 billion mobiles it would reach from ground to 20 000 kilometres high (assuming the average thickness of mobile is 2 centimetres). This is about a half of distance between moon and earth;
- Current mobiles weights approx. 100 grams. This means 260.000.000 kilograms of plastic, metal etc. substances mobiles are made of will someday become waste that needs to be recycled;
- The average lifespan of a cell phone is only 12-18 months. This means that by the end of this decade, there are more than 3 billion abandoned mobile devices;
- And since mobiles come boxed with chargers and printed manuals, the waste pile gets multiple times thicker and heavier;
Big responsibility for which largest mobile manufacturers reply with environment protocols:
- Nokia environmental protocol (a 33% market share in mobile markets)
- Motorola environmental protocol (a 18% market share in mobile markets)
- Samsung (a 12% market share in mobile markets)
- All major mobile manufacturers have committed to seven principles defined by World Business Council for Sustainable Development
How much about the content of these protocols is for real, how much is just for PR / marketing reasons is something that should be reviewed with care. All are stock companies with prime responsibility to make profit. Therefore for example the marketing and development of new generation mobile products is very aggressive, and far from the environmental thinking.
In the end it is consumers who make the selections either for or against mother nature. My personal decision is to purchase only high quality phones and buy them only when I really, really need to. I’ve used mobiles nearly a decade, and my current phone (Nokia 6021 ) is the 4th cell phone I own (all previous ones have gone beyond repair). This makes the average lifespan of my phones nearly 30 months – approx. 2x the average. If all consumers did a similar choice, the tower of mobiles related waste would be cut 50%. IMO a issue worth thinking before purchasing a new mobile device.