The global footprint of mobiles

The average mobile creates 55 kilograms of carbon emissions in manufacture, equal to 26 weeks of laundry. 1

60 mobiles on a conveyor belt

1.9 billion mobile phones were projected to be sold in 2018. Approximately 60/second. Their total carbon footprint in manufacture is at least equal to the Philippines’ 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.) If we used every phone sold this year for 1/3 longer, we would prevent carbon emissions equal to Ireland’s annual emissions. 3

 

  1. This figure is conservative, based on an average of carbon footprints ca. 2018 from 4 manufacturers of 17 mobile models, including a couple non-smartphones. N.b. manufacturers do not follow standards 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 2018. Emissions data from World Databank, dated 2014.
  3. These emissions savings would occur three years from now, assuming new purchases are displaced. Same sources as above.