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Are green smartphones possible?

Is it possible to generate eco-friendly smartphones or is it a simple marketing campaign? .

Woman holding an iPhone

After Apple's announcement, the question arises whether smartphones can be environmentally friendly. / Photo: Pexels

LatinAmerican Post | Ariel Cipolla

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Leer en español: ¿Son posibles los smartphones ecológicos?

The announcement of the new generation of iPhones from Apple brought controversy. As FayerWayer portrays, the apple company announced that, from now on, the company's new phones will not bring a charger or headphones. The argument? That the company worked in favor of the environment, reducing the generation of pollutants and garbage.

That is, the box that would contain the iPhone 12 was much more stylized because the packaging thinned a lot. This is because it takes up less space since the wall charger or traditional EarPods are not integrated. However, it also aroused criticism, in the sense that it could be due to a strategy of cutting costs.

In 20 Minutes they emphasize that Apple seeks, by 2030, to have a “net-zero” climate impact on the entire business. This initiative, by removing the power adapter and headphones, would aim to reduce carbon emissions and achieve more efficient packaging. Against this background, we decided to find out if it is possible to make truly green smartphones.

Green smartphones

When new technology releases come out, we don't usually wander too much about ecology or the environment. In reality, the priorities seem to be the improvements: what will be the processor that it incorporates, how many megapixels will the cameras have or what pixel density will the screen bring.

This is why, for example, National Geographic wonders if there is room for ecological smartphones for the future. That is if the environment is on the market leaders' agenda. This is fundamental, taking into account the figures that are handled in terms of sales.

If we take into account the latest data from the International Monetary Forum, about 1.5 billion smartphones are sold per year. If we consider that there are almost 5,000 million users, we would be saying that 66% of the population has a mobile phone. Therefore, is it feasible for this production to be friendly to the environment?

Also read: To protect nature's benefits, focus on people

One of the first alternatives that emerge is that of the "most sustainable phones on the planet." That is, according to La Razón, they would be all those that are reconditioned, modular or those made with recyclable materials, which could mean a fairly drastic reduction in terms of waste.

From the perspective of the specialist environment of DoctorTronic, there are some smartphones that are respectful with the environment. Among them, we find the LG G5, with a slide-out and removable battery or the Shift 6m, which was manufactured in conditions that promise not to exploit nature.

From PC World they emphasize another model that promises to "commit to the environment." It is the Fairphone 3+, which even prioritizes the social and ecological commitment that it has with the user. Despite having good specifications, there is a drastic change in the materials: the petroleum-based plastics that were used in previous models were exchanged for recycled plastics.

These options seem to seriously compromise with the ecosystem, although the problem seems to be related, too, to the use we make of it. In Muy Interesante they add that a lot of energy is needed to make a mobile phone, in addition to using scarce minerals with expensive extraction processes, which threaten the environment.

At the same time, the tendency of users to constantly want to update their phones seems not to help. In Business Commitment they believe that the need for new smartphones "threatens the environment", since companies produce at the rate at which consumers want new models, impacting the planet.

While companies can commit to reducing the toxic footprints they leave on Earth by producing new smartphones, if we, as users, do not stop wanting new phones that only incorporate a few small improvements, we will be encouraging this system.