Did You Know How Much E-waste and Carbon Footprints Your New iPhone Produces?

Ever since the first iPhone was launched in the market more than a decade ago, we have been fascinated by these devices that we upgrade them at breakneck speed the moment another newer iPhone model is introduced.

All our incessant demands and upgrades have resulted in huge amounts of iPhone sales yearly.

For example, in 2018, Apple managed to sell 218 million smartphones globally.  In 2019,  Apple still sold a whopping number of  40.8 million iPhones.

Indeed, your iPhone (along with the millions of iPhones worldwide) is not only generating headlines for Apple’s humongous revenue. More ominously, iPhones (and mobile phones in general) produce a considerable environmental impact that cannot be neglected.

We explore how your iPhone produces environmental waste (e-waste), causes carbon dioxide emissions, and damages the environment due to the mining of rare earth elements to produce it.

Your iPhone Produces A Ton Of E-Waste

Your iPhone is made up of toxic heavy elements such as mercury, polluting PVC plastic, lead and other hazardous substances that could adversely harm human health as well as impact the environment.

With Singapore producing around 60,000 tonnes (and more) of e-waste annually, the amount of discarded phones will build up and contribute to the degradation of the environment as well as of human health. 

Although recycling of unwanted mobile phones is becoming more popular these days, very few of us know how to properly recycle the materials from these phones and as a result, recycle only a tiny fraction of the entire device. The remaining  not recycled parts of the said device are left exposed in landfills and contaminating the environment.

Your iPhone Depletes Scarce Natural Resources

Like any other electronic device, your iPhone comprises a varied mix of materials such as palladium, lithium, cobalt, copper, platinum, silver, gold as well as other scarce elements from the earth. A sobering statistic to bear in mind from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is that “one metric ton of circuit boards can contain 40 to 800 times the amount of gold mined” in the United States alone! Such a statistic clearly shows the amount of precious earth elements needed to produce a single iPhone like yours.

Another thought-provoking statistic is that the iPhone 8 64 GB  can produce around 57 kg of scarce earth elements, whereas the iPhone 8 256 GB produces around 81 kg of precious earth metals.

This group of precious earth metals that are utilised in manufacturing electronic devices such as smartphones and laptops are becoming more and more scarce as the days go by.

Your iPhone uses three of such elements, namely, dysprosium, neodymium, praseodymium in its touchscreen, camera and speakers. Because such elements are so scarce, they are challenging to mine and obtain. Mining for these rare metals in places like North America and China usually comes at a significant environmental cost and disruption to the surrounding wildlife and biodiversity.

Moreover, a lot of carbon dioxide emissions are produced when manufacturers mine for precious earth metals to make new phones. Every iPhone X, for example, generates the equivalent of 79 kg of carbon dioxide emissions because of its production (around 80%) and consumer usage.

Given the scarcity of such metals to make new phones, even seemingly tiny amounts of them would translate into a significant environmental depletion of these resources.

With your insatiable demand for the latest brand new iPhones and other electronic devices, you are indirectly depleting these scarce earth elements as well.

What is worse is that when discarded smartphones are left to rot in open landfills, the precious earth metals that are in them will seep out into the environment and pollute the surroundings due to exposure from the sun and other weather elements.


Factors Increasing The Amount Of E-Waste

Numerous attempts to educate the public about the environmental impact of electronic devices like iPhones have fallen on deaf ears as consumers are still chasing the latest, newest and apparently best gadgets out there in the market at any given time.

Consumers are not entirely to blame, however.

Technology such as smart gadgets and Internet cloud services have become more and more infused into every aspect of everyday lives.  Globally, half of all households now have internet access, and 7.7 billion people have cell phones. With the increase in technological integration across Singaporean and global households, consumers keeping up with the times tend to splurge on their favorite or the latest devices to measure up to the expectations of modern-day living.

For example, they might constantly upgrade their iPhones because of the additional features each new iPhone has. Another illustration would be how consumers demand the latest smart home gadgets with state-of-the-art sensors in order to keep up with the demands of ‘smart living’. A single upgrade in technology would translate into a perceptible change in daily life - at least according to the more die-hard electronic consumers, thus fuelling their demand for the latest gadgets despite environmental costs.

On the other end of the spectrum, electronics manufacturers are also responsible for giving rise to (directly or indirectly) the increase in the amount of e-waste. With various electronics manufacturers constantly enhancing the features and designs for newer models of electronics like smartphones and ceasing technical support for older models, many consumers have found it cheaper to purchase a brand new product as compared to repairing an older one.

Additionally, with the life span of devices getting shorter and consumers itching to purchase newer products,  manufacturers eventually profit from never-ending sales as a consequence.

Recycle Your Unwanted iPhones

All is not doom and gloom.

You as a consumer can do your part in reducing the amount of e-waste produced and thus helping to conserve the environment.

One way you could play a role in protecting the health and safety of those around us is to recycle your unwanted phone instead of discarding it.

For example, you could choose to sell your phone at a competitive price with a trusted electronics marketplace such as Reebelo. For every transaction conducted on Reebelo, we at Reebelo will plant a tree in Indonesia or Vietnam as a concrete means to indicate our commitment in keeping our environment green. 

If you are worried if your existing phone can be sold due to its defects (cracked screen, poor battery life), fret not as Reebelo will accept your phone in whatever condition it is in, simply because we believe in the recycling potential of each single device.

Enjoy double savings when you trade your existing phone in exchange for a preloved phone from Reebelo at the same time, in order to maximise each dollar during your transaction.

Purchase Refurbished And Pre-loved Phones

Another way you can help conserve the environment and be a responsible consumer is when you decide to purchase refurbished and pre-loved devices instead of brand new ones.

You will save hundreds, if not, thousands of dollars when you get a refurbished and preloved phone instead of a brand new one. For example, a refurbished Apple XS Max can cost as low as $999 at Reebelo (as compared to its original sky-high price at $2350)!

Furthermore, Reebelo’s collection of refurbished phones have each been completely repaired, cleaned and inspected before being put on sale. This means that when you buy a refurbished phone from us at Reebelo, you will be enjoying premium quality phones that are as good as, if not better than, brand new ones that might still contain defects!

Reebelo works with various established buyback providers and OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturers) to ensure that all our refurbished phones get excellent technical support and repairs before they end up in consumers’ hands!


Save The Environment With Reebelo

Every action taken to save the environment, no matter how small, can go a long way. At Reebelo, our mission is to provide consumers with top quality devices at competitive prices while doing our part to save the environment.

We invite you to help conserve the environment, by trading in your existing phones instead of discarding them as well as by purchasing preloved phones instead of brand new ones! Simply fill up the form here and look forward to a free doorstep phone delivery and pick-up - all contactless and seamless!

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