Life cycle of a smartphone

Life cycle of a smartphone

The life cycle of a phone has 6 stages which all have a more or less significant impact on the environment:

1- extraction
2- manufacturing
3- transport
4- distribution
5- use
6- end of life

That is the production phase (extracting materials and manufacturing) that weighs the most in the life cycle of phones. According to the giant Apple, an iPhone 6 emits during its life cycle the equivalent of 95 kg of greenhouse gases. Of these 95 kg, 85% correspond to production, 11% to use, and the rest to transport and recycling. Thus, you would have to keep your phone for a period of 4 to 5 years for the share of use to exceed that of production. However, today the facts show that the average duration of use is rather around two years.

Several stages before your phone is finally available in shops

Before arriving in stores, the phone usually goes through four main stages:

– Conception, which is most often done in the United States or in Asia.

– The extraction and processing of raw materials. This takes place in Southeast Asia, Australia, Africa and South America, regions which are home to the main deposits of metals and raw materials.

– The main components are manufactured in the factories of the big names in mobile telephony. In Europe, the United States and Asia.

– The assembly, which is generally done in Asia.

A tiny product, full of materials

You might not know it, but your cell phone contains, on average, more than 70 different materials:

– Plastic: especially for the charger, protections, electronic card, etc.

– Glass: for the screen.

– Metals: such as copper, aluminum, chromium, zinc, tin …

– Precious metals: gold, silver, platinum, palladium …

– So-called “technological” metals: includes what are called “rare earths” (about fifteen metallic elements that have become essential in the manufacture of high-tech products). These include tantalum, europium, indium, etc.

Careful process for efficient product

The production of a cell phone starts with a simple motherboard, completely blank. This, is then processed, then thousands of small components such as chips or resistors are added. Subsequently the larger components will be soldered or glued to the motherboard. Finally, the actual assembly of the phone begins: photo-video sensors, shell, internal software … before being tested, packaged, then shipped.

Note that some of these devices are used for internal tests. Specialized departments inflict the worst tortures on them: crushing the phone, exposure to extreme temperatures, going through a washing machine, falling from several meters … These tests are intended to verify the reliability and solidity of the goods before shipping and put them up for sale.

Be aware and extend the life cycle

In France, the average duration of use of a smartphone is around 20 months. However, the average lifespan of a smartphone is 36 months. As a matter of fact, we could all extend the use of our phones. We tend to keep our old phones and forget them in our drawers. &COLLAB is in favor of the circular economy and we encourage you to put your old devices back into the loop. Whether you sell them on your own on marketplaces or go to a second-hand store, the options are numerous.

It is up to you to make your choice !

Our sources :

https://www.planete-energies.com/fr/medias/diaporamas/analyse-du-cycle-de-vie-d-un-telephone-portable

http://marcelgenco.free.fr/Niveau3/fichiers/cycle-vie-smartphone.pdf

https://www.mediachimie.org/ressource/analyse-du-cycle-de-vie-d’un-téléphone-portable

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