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February 13, 2024
By John Jakovlic

Visualizing the Environmental Impact of a Smartphone

Have you ever wondered about the environmental ramifications of a smartphone? At e-Cycle, we embarked on a journey to answer this question. What emerged was not merely a matter of simple arithmetic, but a complex web of interconnected factors that contribute to the footprint of a single device..

Here are the five main categories that we found crucial in understanding the environmental impact of a smartphone:

  • Raw Materials: The extraction and mining of materials for smartphone production can result in significant habitat destruction, deforestation, and water pollution.

  • Manufacturing: This phase encompasses metal refinement, plastic molding, and assembly — contributing to an estimated 70%-80% of the total carbon footprint of a smartphones

  • Transportation: Global material sourcing and supply chain transportation both contribute to emissions output and environmental impact.

  • Usage: The energy efficiency, screen size, and processor power of the device influence energy consumption during its operational phase.

  • End-of-Life Management: Improper disposal leads to electronic waste, potentially causing environmental pollution if not managed responsibly.

Faced with the complexity of our initial research, we chose to focus on the aspect of end-of-life management, an area where our expertise lies. This led us to develop the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), a report aimed at addressing the question: "What is the environmental impact of recycling a smartphone?"

Leveraging research led by the U.S. EPA, e-Stewards, and other reputable sources, our report delineates five key metrics:

  1. Reduction in Greenhouse Gas Emissions
  2. Prevention of Contaminated Water Gallons
  3. Prevention of Toxins Release into the Environment
  4. Energy Saved in Charging Multiple Smartphones
  5. Reduction in Mining of Copper, Gold, and Aluminum

We compiled this data and crafted a report that provides our customers with a visual representation of the impact of their recycling endeavors (see image above).

By understanding these real-world repercussions, businesses can make informed decisions regarding the disposal and recycling of their electronic devices. All of our customers have access to this report upon request, and many have integrated it into their sustainability efforts and ESG reporting. Regardless of its application, the ability to illustrate the environmental impact of recycling is a way to see the positive outcome of an organization’s end-of-life mobile device program.

Let's make 2024 a year where change begins with sustainable partnerships!



e-Cycle is the trusted wireless partner for many of the largest organizations in the world. As one the first mobile recycling companies to achieve R2V3 certification, we adhere to the highest standards for environmental responsibility and worker health and safety. e-Cycle offers a simple, secure, environmentally responsible and profitable way for businesses to sell and recycle used mobile phones and tablets. Learn more at

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