- Smartphones are a crucial part of our lives but using these tech gadgets comes at a cost
- The carbon footprint of manufacturing a smartphone is 16 kg CO2e, which is equal to 1 kg of beef
- Buying used and refurbished phones can help reduce the overall carbon footprint associated with manufacturing new smartphones
Smartphones have become more than a communication tool. Nowadays, they are used as media players, gaming devices, internet browsers, cameras, and GPS. Due to multiple functions, their usage has increased significantly over time. Increased smartphone usage is synonymous with excessive emissions and quick end-of-life of devices.
Since smartphones don’t last as long as they used to, users have to replace them frequently. Smartphone companies release multiple new models every year, making it hard to resist buying a new phone. But as a responsible citizen, it is your duty to think well for your planet and consider buying a used or refurbished phone. Moreover, recycle your old phone if it cannot be reused to prevent it from ending in a landfill.
The used and refurbished market is flourishing, which means you can easily get your hands on the latest smartphones in a matter of months. You can easily buy used iPhone 13 Pro Max or find a refurbished Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 for sale. There are pros and cons of buying a used smartphone, but in most cases, the pros outweigh the cons.
But how exactly does buying a used phone help the environment? Let’s find out.
🔎 What Is The Carbon Footprint of a Refurbished Phone Compared To A New One?
On average, smartphones have a life cycle of two years, so they’re more or less disposable. Building a new smartphone from scratch represents 85% to 95% of its total CO2 emissions for two years. This is almost equivalent to the energy used for recharging and operating a smartphone for nearly ten years. So, by the time a smartphone comes into your hands, it has already significantly damaged the environment.
Therefore, it is better to invest in used or refurbished devices as they reduce your carbon footprint significantly. Let’s discuss it in detail.
Manufacturing is the most energy-consuming and polluting stage of a smartphone’s life cycle. According to estimates, almost three-quarters of a smartphone’s carbon impact is caused during manufacturing. 😱
The entire manufacturing process occurs in different parts of the world, and your smartphone travels the planet four times before reaching you.
Here’s a quick rundown of the manufacturing process:
- Design: Usually, the design process takes place in the US.
- Raw material extraction and processing: Both these steps are performed in South East Asia, Central Africa, South America, or Australia.
- Main components manufacturing: These are manufactured in the US, Europe, and Asia.
- Assembly: Smartphones are assembled in Southeast Asia.
- Distribution: Smartphones are distributed worldwide by air.
You can help the environment significantly if you buy a used phone because it has already produced its fair share of emissions. Similarly, a refurbished phone emits 87% fewer greenhouse gasses (i.e., 25 kg) than a new one. It also prevents the extraction of 82 kg of raw materials.
16% of the greenhouse gas emissions of a smartphone are caused by its usage. Despite being significantly less than the emissions produced during manufacturing, they cannot be neglected. By extending the life span of a smartphone for two more years, you can improve the environmental balance by 50%.
End of Life 🚮
An average smartphone requires no less than 70 materials for its manufacturing process, including:
- 10 to 20% glass and ceramics
- 40 to 60% metals
- 30 to 50% plastics and synthetic materials
Although these materials are used in small quantities, they are used with complex alloys, so they are not the easiest to recycle fully. Twenty million tons of waste are generated via digital technology over their entire life cycle. What’s worse is that only 15% of smartphones are collected for recycling.
What Are The Benefits of Buying a Used Phone?
There are a number of advantages to buying a used or refurbished device. Some of these benefits are explained below:
Reduce Environmental Impact 📉
As explained above, manufacturing a new smartphone comes at a great cost to the environment as well as society. While most tech giants have initiated producing green smartphones, the practice is pretty new, and we don’t know whether it’s here to stay. So, it’s better to buy a used phone as it allows you to:
- Prevent extracting new resources to manufacture a new device
- Reduce waste production
- Reduce greenhouse gas emission
So, before you succumb to the latest iPhone model, consider the consequences of manufacturing a new device and consider Apple refurbished products instead.
Participate In the Circular Economy 🔄
The following aspects allow offering second life to a device:
- Ability to repair
- Accessibility of spare parts
- Better maintenance
A refurbished smartphone has two to four times a lower environmental impact than producing a new one. This includes changing the screen, replacing the battery, and adding new equipment.
On the other hand, a used smartphone has no environmental impact because it has already been produced.
So, anyone who wants to replace or upgrade their device should consider selling their old one. They can bring it to a second-hand store or a recycling center. If none of that works, they can simply give it away to someone in their friends or family.
Own a High-Performance Device 💯
Most people think used or refurbished devices are not legit. They hesitate to buy used phones, fearing getting scammed and stuck with faulty devices. However, if you purchase from authentic and reliable retailers, you don’t have to worry about getting scammed.
For instance, you can find the best refurbished Android phones in 2022 if you buy from Phone Daddy. After collecting the smartphones, every smartphone goes through the following process before it is made available on the website:
- Reset to delete the previous owner’s data permanently
- Unlocked to work with any carrier
- Cleaned to get rid of any dust and accumulated dirt
- Tested for software and hardware functionality
- Repaired if a component doesn’t work
- Repacked and resold
The best thing about buying from Phone Daddy is the one-year extended warranty. It helps users to ask for a replacement or refund if the device arrives damaged in any way.
Save Money 💰
Although both Apple and Samsung have been producing mid-range phones, users can save a significant sum by buying used phones. So, while protecting the environment, you also save money – a win-win situation for everyone.
Here are our best budget-friendly Android phones in 2022.