Modern technology gives us many things.

Australia joins World Phone Amnesty to reduce environmental impact of ownership

Australia has become the first country to lead a World Phone Amnesty – a global movement to improve the way we manage our smartphones and reduce their impact on the environment.

The World Phone Amnesty wants to change phone ownership behaviour, curb carbon emissions and reduce the number of devices being discarded everyday which is already in the billions.

Even the way smartphone’s are manufactured will be brought into the spotlight – at the moment 83 per cent of a phone’s carbon emissions are generated during manufacturing.

And keeping a smartphone for an additional two years can reduce its carbon impact by 43 per cent.

Customers are holding on to their smartphones even longer thanks to the rising cost of living with 41 per cent of households, according to a recent study by World Phone Amnesty, willing to purchase a second-hand device.

Worldwide 5.3 billion phones are discarded every year which results in an annual total of 50 million tonnes of e-waste.

The goal of the Amnesty is to change our consumption of mobile phones and encourage customers to trade in or recycle their old device when buying a new one.

Mobile experience company Kingfisher is already creating sustainable solutions for the telco industry and is encouraging a new type of ownership via the circular economy.

This model would see customers buying the latest devices but also giving their old phones a new home.

“Today, phones are designed to last longer than ever, for seven or eight years. The longer lifespan means phones can have three or more owners, rather than ending up in a drawer or landfill,” says Georgiann Reigle, Kingfisher Co-Founder and CEO.

“It is unrealistic to expect consumers to use a single device for that long.

“But while we understand the desire to own a new phone, the World Phone Amnesty highlights the benefits of extending the lifecycles of all the other ones, in order to maximise the potential of each device to reduce its carbon footprint.”

In Australia, 35 per cent of households own at least one second hand device and putting phones back into circulation before discarding or recycling could have a huge impact.

Around the world almost 180 million used smartphones will be sold in the circular economy before the end of the year.

At the same time a billion will be sent to landfill and billions more left forgotten in our homes in drawers, closets, cupboards or tossed into waste bins.

Photo by insung yoon on Unsplash

Here are some stats which justify the World Phone Amnesty’s urgency:

– More than 85 per cent of the world’s population in 2023 has a smartphone – that’s 6.92 billion users.

– Each year, 5.3 billion phones are thrown away – which placed end-to-end would stretch to the moon and back.

– 81kg of carbon dioxide is produced for every brand new phone created – that’s enough carbon dioxide to fill 40,000 balloons.

– A second-life phone used for two years creates 24.6kg CO2e less carbon emissions per year compared to a new phone used for three years.

– Extending the life of a device removes the need to extract 82kg of raw materials associated with the production of a new one.