Recyclable Parts in Smartphones: Summary
When it comes to sustainability, how are Apple and Samsung, the two biggest smartphone makers, doing? We take a look at the materials used in their products, the availability of parts for repair and replacement, the prevalence of e-waste and the push for greener products.
Are Smartphones Sustainable?
Smartphones are considered a hazardous waste product and aren’t always being recycled. According to the EPA, nearly 3 million tons of consumer electronics were produced in 2018, but only 15 percent were recycled. Apple and Samsung are pushing towards recyclable parts and Samsung has a goal to use recycled resin and plastics for 100% of their products by 2050. Meanwhile, Apple has pledged to use recycled materials in all of its products by 2022 and it has achieved that in 2020, with all new Apple and Nest products now made with recycled components.
What Makes a Smartphone Sustainable?
The most obvious first step is to build it with recyclable parts. Smartphones are made of metal, plastic, and other valuable metals, like copper and gold, which all can be recycled. The batteries also contain cadmium, which can be extracted to make new batteries. Then there is the packaging, which can be recycled as well. Once this has been achieved, the next step is to make components easily replaceable and repairable.
Good Moves From Apple and Samsung
Apple has a great self-service repair program, where customers can send broken Parts back to Apple to be reused or recycled. Meanwhile, Samsung’s certified renewed Galaxy phones are great for those wanting phones cheaper but made from refurbished parts. Both companies are environmentally conscious and in 2021, Apple sold over 240 million products, around a fifth of which were made from recycled materials. This is a huge step forward.
How Can Consumers Be Environmentally Conscious?
More than ever, consumers are taking into account a product’s environmental impact when choosing to purchase it. Consumers should look into whether the materials are recyclable and if they do need to be replaced, how easily they can be replaced or repaired. Knowing this should factor into your decision-making when buying a new phone.
The Push for More Sustainable Tech
Apple and Samsung are releasing new sustainable technology products that are helping to reduce e-waste. For example, Apple opened up their patents to allow other companies and researchers to use their recycling robot (Daisy) for free. Samsung has open sourced the Solar Cell Remote, which draws power from the sun and radio frequencies.
Apple and Samsung are making some great strides when it comes to creating a greener and more sustainable world of technology. However, for phones to be 100% recyclable, a bigger push across the industry is needed. Until then, consumers should keep in mind replaceable and repairable components, recyclable parts and sustainable technology when deciding what phone to buy.