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Are Recent Smartphone Sustainability Trends Enough to Make a Difference?

The road to sustainable smartphone tech has largely been paved by two major companies, namely Apple and Samsung. Apple is clearly in the lead, but Samsung has also managed to reach half of its sustainability goals with all things having been considered and taken into account. In spite of the fact that this is the case, many are wondering if reaching these goals is truly enough to make a difference. Let’s dive deep to find out.

With all of that having been said and now out of the way, it is important to note that around 80% of the carbon footprint of a smartphone comes from its production process. Cutting down on emissions here can be useful because of the fact that this is the sort of thing that could potentially end up making the whole process much more sustainable. The use of virgin materials is on the decline, with recycled materials coming to the fore.

A much more difficult area to focus on would have to do with the customer life cycle. Ideally, an OEM would want consumers replacing their old phones with newer models every two to three years, but this can make them less sustainable than might have been the case otherwise. Finding a balance between driving sales and creating more environmentally friendly smartphones will be key here.

Refurbished smartphones are becoming more popular, with the market for these phones increasing by 15% year over year. Facilitating phone refurbishment and self repair can be a useful method for companies who are looking to improve sustainability across the board.

This is an area where a lot of smaller companies such as Oppo and Vivo are lagging behind. Samsung and Apple have made great strides in easing self repair options and providing refurbishment where possible. That will give them an edge over their smaller competitors, although we will have to wait and see if Chinese smartphone companies get with the times. These days, it is more or less impossible to create a suitable business strategy if sustainability is not factored into the equation at each and every corner.


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