In short, the problem is that smartphones cause emissions and waste. People use a phone for about two year on average, while most devices have the potential to be used much longer! Either as phone or with a different purpose. Using your phones longer would help to reduce pollution, one phone at a time.
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You are a maker, a tinkerer, a creative. You love solving problems. Well, here’s a big one for you: E-waste!
You understand the environmental problems! Here, you find solutions that are easily applied!
You don’t have to fit a label to use this website. Anyone could discover their own benefits! What’s yours?
This is the life of a product:
First, it is created – then, brought to someone with a need for the product – who will get some use out of it – and finally, disposes of the product.
All products go through roughly these phases and each of these phases have their impact on the environment. The impact is the result of the negative by-products of a product life.
For the sake of simplicity, let’s summarize the negative by-products in two categories: Waste and Emissions.
Raw materials are extracted from the earth to create new products. These resources are processed to turn them into the right shapes and sizes. During the various phases, various types of materials are used and are eventually disposed.
Disposal leads to physical waste that often ends up on landfills, being burned, or in the oceans. And while it has been the norm for decades, none of that is a good thing.
In many products, including smartphones, valuable and irreplaceable materials are being used. When disposed, that is a lot of wasted value.
Energy is used during the life of a product. It is used to produce the product in a factory, to ship your product by plane or truck, or to power the product with a battery.
All of this energy consumption either directly or indirectly results in emissions. It could be by using energy from burning oil and coal or by a factory process turning raw materials into a product.
A method for measuring the emissions of a product is Life Cycle Assessment. It allows you to measure, among others, the Global Warming Potential. With LCA this potential can then be expressed as a single value: the CO2 equivalent in Kg.
Let us fittingly use a single mobile phone as an example (figure data source).
Directly visible is the size of the production phase. The second thing to note is how the impact of the use phase depends on how long and how intensely a smartphone is used. You should understand that the length of the use phase is essential.
This can be illustrated with the data from the figure above, representing the life of a single smartphone.
The use phase has an equivalent of 10Kg CO2 over two years. If the smartphone was used for one more year it would add another 5Kg and have a total of about 70Kg over its lifetime.
When this smartphone is used for two years it has a total of 65Kg and an average of 32.5Kg per year, with three years of use it has a total of 70Kg and an average of 23.3Kg per year.
Let’s say Adam buys a new smartphone every two years and Bob buys one every three years. Adam is using (3/2) 1.5 times the materials and causes (32.5/23.3) 1.4 times the emissions. So, let’s be like Bob instead!
Now with this in mind, let us check the solutions that are available! Scroll down to find out.
On this website, we categorized circular solutions that can be applied to devices like smartphones:
"Recycle" means to turn waste into reusable material.
The power of recycling is that it both limits new materials from entering the economy as well as preventing materials from leaving it. In a ideally sustainable world, all material is recycled.
For you, it means finding easy and effective ways to properly dispose old devices. Realize that holding on to something, for example at home in a drawer, also means that the material can not be reused and therefore requires new material to enter the economy.
"Restore" means to return to a former condition.
On this website we use the term "restore" for solutions that allow making longer use of a product. This includes repairing, cleaning up, unlocking, and other methods of making a phone feel like brand new.
As seen in the explanation of the problem, longer use decreases the average emissions of a product. Longer use also delays the replacement of that product, over the years this means fewer extracted resources and less waste.
"Repurpose" means to give a new function.
It might be that your smartphone is simply meeting your expectations anymore. However, the smartphone might still have value to you when fulfilling a different role.
By giving a product a new purpose, you will extend it's lifetime. In addition, you also replace the need for buying a new product, as your old phone now fills this gap.
"Trade" means to exchange.
On this website these are the solutions that involve buying, selling, or giving away your smartphone. It might be that a smartphone no longer meets your wishes, but that someone else still has a use for it.
"Reduce" means to decrease the quantity.
Reducing how much you use a phone will keep it in a good condition longer and also reduce energy usage. Using a phone differently can limit the energy use as well.
By refusing to buy a new product you don't start a new product life and therefore completely prevent waste and emissions. Alternatively, some products have a reduced impact compared to the alternatives.
Revice.org has the goal to tackle E-waste, so why not provide solutions for all types of devices?
The reason for focusing on smartphones is simply that we want to start the platform with a limited scope. Let’s tackle one problem before we tackle all of them. If Revice.org grows, you can expect new categories of electronics to start showing up. But for now, we focus on smartphones, because we have seen numerous smartphone solutions out there, as well as the reasons listed below: