The global footprint of mobiles

Sixteen washing machines running

The average mobile creates 35 kilograms of carbon emissions in manufacture, equal to 16 weeks of laundry. 1

 

60 mobiles on a conveyor belt

1.9 billion mobile phones were sold in 2017. Approximately 60/second. Their total carbon footprint in manufacture is at least equal to Austria’s annual carbon emissions. 2

 

Mobile turning four birthday message

All of us can help reduce the impact of our mobiles, by simply using them for longer. (We can also ask for more efficient design and manufacture.)

 

Skyline of Singapore

If we used every phone sold this year for 1/3 longer, we would prevent carbon emissions equal to Singapore’s annual emissions. 3

 

 

  1. This figure is conservative, based on an average of carbon footprints ca. 2015 from 5 manufacturers of 16 mobile models, including some non-smartphones. N.b. there is no standard for carbon footprinting, or “life cycle analysis”. Review and/or contribute. One week of laundry (three machine washes 40 degrees C, line dried) is roughly equal to 2.1 kg of carbon emissions. Source: Mike Berners-Lee, via The Guardian.
  2. Gartner estimate of the number of mobiles sold in 2017. Austria emissions data from World Databank, dated 2011.
  3. These emissions savings would occur three years from now, assuming new purchases are displaced. Same sources as above.