Phone upgrades and Waste

Phone upgrades and waste – We are all guilty of it!

There is nothing wrong with your current smartphone (unless it is actually broken!). However, the lure from your network provider, promising free upgrades every 2 years, is just too much for the majority of us to resist! We all want the latest and greatest technology – both in terms of software and hardware. However, the uptake of hardware is at its highest levels, and it is only going to get higher.

But what impact is it having on the environment?

The average handset is only 2 years old. Consider the energy alone which is consumed during the creation of your smartphone, then multiply that by 4 (the average number of different mobile phones you have so far consumed within your lifetime), then multiply that again by the number of smartphone users currently on the globe (2.2 billion). It is certainly enough to start scratching your head! Considering the materials used – we are not hardware experts, however, we know they are made with an array of elements and plastics. Whilst there is no exact figure, we believe there is a great disparity between the number of phones created vs the quantity of redundant/old phones that have been recycled (we asked around the office and everyone knows they have a few old phones knocking about ‘just in case’).

Who is responsible – the consumer or the company?

Is it the consumer or the technology companies here that need to make the change? We could argue that it is the responsibility of both. Tech companies need to ensure that the materials used in the creation of the mobiles are not harmful to the environment, and it is the responsibility of the consumer to ensure that handsets that are no longer used are recycled correctly. However, the tech companies could take on the recycling responsibility as well – ‘give us your old phone and we will give you a discount on your new one.’

So, what changes do we need to make?

When asking around the office, it was unanimous that everyone would be happy to trade in his or her old mobile phones in order to receive a shiny new upgrade. A small change which is bound to make a difference? We also believe that we should learn to love our trusted devices and that handsets should be built to last longer – they should adapt more easily to newer soft and hard changes. Maybe it could even be considered ethical and chic to have a vintage handset, rather than the next new best thing.

Let’s face it, us humans all get wiser with age – maybe we could apply the same logic to our SMARTphones? The clue is in the name, right?