The carbon footprint of smartphones is largely underestimated, as the focus has been mainly on the production phase – ignoring the impact of the entire life cycle of a smartphone. Lorenz Hilty emphasizes the importance of considering the environmental impact of our digital lives and calls for a shift towards a more sustainable and responsible use of technology.
Depending on the source and methods of calculation, anywhere from 22 to 85 kg of CO₂ per smartphone are said to be emitted into the atmosphere. However, the methods are often based on dated references, says Lorenz Hilty, professor of Informatics and Sustainability at the Department of Informatics, University of Zurich. The expert on sustainable information and communication technology explains that the indirect energy consumption caused by using cloud services as well as the impact of the disposal of smartphones should not be overlooked.
The increasing demand for smartphones and their high turnover rate contribute to a growing environmental problem. Reducing the carbon footprint of smartphones requires a multifaceted approach, including better design, responsible sourcing of materials, longer lifespan, energy-efficient manufacturing, and proper recycling and disposal practices.